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Leeds stand firm with statement on Koch head injury as PFA claim player welfare at risk

Robin Koch, Leeds United, February 2022.

Leeds United have insisted that they followed all the current concussion protocols for Robin Koch following his head injury, amid backlash from the PFA.

Whites defender Koch sustained a blow to his head in the first half against Manchester United on Sunday. The clash of heads with Scott McTominay caused the Leeds star to bleed.

Indeed, he left the field to swap his shirt and shorts. He then returned to the field for a few minutes, before coming off.

However, Leeds are facing backlash for not removing Koch from the action immediately.

The Professional Footballers’ Association took to Twitter to disagree with the decision made by Leeds in letting Koch return to the pitch.

“The injury to Leeds United’s Robin Koch demonstrates again that the current concussion protocols within football are failing to prioritise player safety,” they said.

“The ‘if in doubt, sit them out’ protocol is not being applied consistently within the pressurised environment of elite competitive football.

“We see frequent incidents of players returning to play with a potential brain injury, only to be removed shortly afterwards once symptoms visibly worsen.”

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The PFA added that they want to see temporary concussion substitutes brought in.

“As the representative voice of players in England, we have been clear to IFAB [football’s lawmakers] that we want to see the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes,” they added.

Leeds issue Koch injury statement

Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa

Leeds issued their own statement on the situation. They insisted that Koch followed and passed “all of the on-field concussion screening tests” in the Premier League’s current guidance.

The club added that Koch received advice to sit down on the field of play if he needed to. The player did so after 29 minutes at Elland Road.

Leeds said: “The medical staff at Leeds United have always been in favour of temporary substitutions for head injuries, as it would allow the staff more time to assess an injury and allow a period for symptoms to potentially develop.

“Robin will follow the concussion protocols before returning to play.”

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa also felt that Leeds were not out of line in how they handled the situation.

“He had a cut on his head and what excludes him or made him come off is the cut. If the cut is the most significant thing than the knock he received, I acted in accordance to that,” he said.

Indeed, the manager did not feel that Koch’s injury was bad enough that he would have sustained concussion.

“No, [I would not have wanted to use a fourth substitution] in the second half our performance was better than the first. I am advising the individuals individualities and I didn’t observe a player who would have deserved to come off the pitch,” he said.

In any case, Leeds failed to secure the win against rivals Man Utd. The visitors took a 2-0 lead into half time after goals from Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes.

Leeds responded straight away in the second half. Rodrigo made it 2-1 a minute before Raphinha netted an equaliser.

Nevertheless, Man Utd hit back with goals from Fred and Anthony Elanga to secure the three points.

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