Minami Tamaki LLP announced the settlement of a nationwide class-action lawsuit on behalf of youth soccer players against major U.S. soccer organizations.
Under the settlement, the United States Soccer Federation agreed to eliminate the practice of “heading” (using the head to propel the ball) for children 10 years and younger. The settlement will also enhance safety measures for millions of youth soccer players around the country.
Minami Tamaki filed the lawsuit in 2014 in Oakland federal court on behalf of current and former players against soccer’s worldwide governing body and affiliated organizations in the United States.
The lawsuit alleged these organizations failed to protect players from head injuries and failed to incorporate the most up-to-date medical guidelines in their concussion policies.
The players also sought rule changes that would allow medical evaluations for injured players during matches without penalizing an injured player’s team.
U.S. Soccer’s new safety guidelines will limit heading during practice for players between the ages of 11 and 13. The new guidelines also amend substitution rules to better serve players who have suffered a head injury and are suspected of having sustained a concussion.
Additionally, the guidelines call for concussion education among players, coaches and parents, and more uniform concussion management. The settlement emphasizes the importance of on-site medical personnel at youth tournaments.
“We are pleased to have helped to make the game of soccer safer and to protect youth players,” said Minami Tamaki Partner Jack W. Lee. “These are important steps in reducing the risk of concussions and traumatic head injuries for our children.”