Footballers should factor in the risk of brain injury when planning out their career, warns top sports lawyer

Posted on Monday October 28, 2019

Mohit Pasricha

New research has revealed that professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.
The study by Glasgow University has given some credence to the long-rumoured connection between hearing the ball and significant brain injury.
Mohit Pasricha, Head of Mackrell Turner Garrett’s Sports & Entertainment team believes that professional players should consider this when mapping out their careers and contracts.
The long-awaited study was commissioned by the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association, in light of the light of players such as former West Brom striker Jeff Astle who died due to repeated head trauma.
Mohit said: “The study focuses on players that enjoyed a career between 1900 and 1976 who played with heavier leather balls, but there is still likely to be an inherent risk from heading the ball even with lighter, modern footballs due to the forces involved.”
“It is really important that footballers consider the risk of injury during their career and afterwards and ensure that they are sufficiently provided for in later life, by creating a sufficient financial legacy during their career.”
Mohit said that many sportspersons fail to realise that they aren’t sufficiently provided for in later life until it is too late and in need of care.
He believes that by seeking the best terms during a person’s career and getting advice early on players can protect themselves and their interests for years after retirement.
As a legal representative to a number of footballers, Mohit also welcomes the news that brain injury charity Headway is calling for further research on modern lightweight footballs so that the risks of playing can be highlighted and laid clear.
“For those families that have lost relatives or had to look after loved ones affected by brain injury during their careers, this research may have come too late, but hopefully it can help current and future players make more informed decisions about their careers going forward,” added Mohit.
In addition, Mohit believes that players could consider creating a Lasting Power of Attorney. Mohit’s colleague Natalie Payne, who is a solicitor in Mackrell Turner Garrett’s Private Client team agrees and said:
“One way in which a sportsperson can prepare himself/herself if such an injury should arise, is with the creation of a Lasting Power of Attorney. There are two types, one for property and financial affairs and one for health and welfare.
“These documents appoint up to four people (known as attorneys) to act on your behalf and to look after your finances and/or health when you are unable to do so. Both types of lasting power of attorney are equally important because it is imperative you have someone you trust to protect your lifetime earnings, derived from a successful sporting career and also someone who will look after you when dealing with your care needs.”
“It is imperative that lasting powers of attorney are made whilst you have capacity as if you were to lose capacity then it is expensive application and ongoing fees for your lifetime to the Court of Protection.”