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CONMEBOL Introduces Pink Card for Head Injury Substitutions in Copa America

Posted : 23 May 2024

A groundbreaking development in football's approach to head injuries is set to debut this summer. The South American Football Association (CONMEBOL) has announced the introduction of a pink card for the Copa America tournament. This new card will allow a separate substitution specifically for head injuries, providing an innovative step toward player safety.


The pink card will be issued in cases where a player cannot continue due to a head injury or is at risk if they do. Additionally, the opposing team will be permitted to make a substitution during this time, which will not count against the usual five substitutions allowed.


Notably, any player substituted due to a head injury will not be allowed to return to the game, ensuring their health is prioritized. The referee will wave the pink card towards the audience rather than the player, signaling the special substitution. This concept was previously trialed briefly in Major League Soccer (MLS) but did not achieve widespread success.


Criticism persists over the existing concussion protocols, particularly in MLS, where they are deemed insufficiently stringent. European football faces similar challenges, highlighted by a 2019 incident in the Italian league involving Napoli's then-goalkeeper David Ospina, who continued playing after a head injury only to collapse later.


The World Players Organization has long advocated for uniform procedures to address such issues. The introduction of the pink card in South America marks a significant step toward establishing more comprehensive safety measures in football.


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