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Mrs Jeff Astle challenges FA

20/12/12: A footballer’s widow has called on the FA to accept its responsibilities’ and compensate her for the injuries her husband sustained and which led to his death.

Laraine Astle has spoken out after new research completed in America showed that frequent heading of a football may lead to brain injuries.

Her husband, the former England and West Brom player Jeff Astle, died at the age of 59 and a coroner ruled that he had sustained brain damage by heading the heavy leather balls that were used in the 1960s and 1970s.

The family has so far been defeated in their bid to win any compensation from the FA however Mrs Astle has said this new research would help their case.

Mrs Astle told local press that is not surprised by the findings of the research because she already knew that had caused Jeff’s illness.

One of the UK’s top neuro-pathologists has told us that every segment of Jeff’s brain showed trauma signs and the coroner said that he had died from heading a football. What other proof is required?

It is my opinion that the FA won’t admit liability because the will then have to pay compensation to the dozens of people whose lives have been changed by this.

By the time Jeff died he couldn’t remember that he had been a football player. He recognised me but even struggled to recall our daughters’ names. He was living in his own world.

I think that the FA should stop ignoring this problem and face their responsibilities. The new study which was led by Dr Lipton at the Montefiore Centre in NYC involved carrying out scans on the brains of 38 players and which showed damage akin to that seen in concussed patients.

Serious injury was visible in players who surpassed 1000 or 1500 headers per year which is equivalent to a few times every day for regular player according to Dr Lipton.

He also said that heading ball is not an impact of the magnitude which will affect the nerve fibres of the brain; however, repetitive heading can instigate a cascade of reactions that will lead to brain cell degeneration.

A spokesperson for the FA spokesman said that they were aware that a recent study had been carried out which involved a small sample of players.

Although we have not seen the findings, we believe there are also conflicting opinions on the effects of heading of a football frequently for a period of time.

There are currently standards which are laid out in the laws of the game regarding the weight, size and pressure of the balls and we will carry on liaising with FIFA on all medical issues.