Moscow (AFP) – The decision to allow Moroccan midfielder Nordin Amrabat to take to the field at the World Cup on Wednesday just five days after suffering concussion has been criticised by players’ union FifPro.
The Watford winger was substituted in Morocco’s opening 1-0 defeat by Iran on Friday after a clash of heads with Vahid Amiri, but started his team’s match against Portugal wearing head protection, before throwing it to the side of the pitch in the 16th minute.
The treatment of Amrabat after he first went down against Iran was widely ridiculed, with the doctors splashing water over his head before appearing to repeatedly slap him in the face.
“This is yet another alarming example of a player being put in harm’s way,” FifPro said in a statement.
FIFA introduced new protocol after the 2014 World Cup, including allowing players to have three-minute checks for concussion on the pitch after head injuries.
Those changes came after a number of incidents during the tournament four years ago in Brazil, including when Germany midfielder Christoph Kramer had to be replaced in the final.
FifPro said that those new guidelines were not followed in the case of 31-year-old Amrabat, who impressed in the 1-0 loss to Portugal which saw Morocco knocked out of the competition.
“Amrabat returned to action too soon according to medical guidelines,” added FifPro.
“Four years on from the debacle of the last World Cup, where several players did not receive adequate care, football has not made sufficient progress in concussion management. Repeated calls to implement world-class safety standards have been overlooked.”
Morocco team doctor Abderazzak El Hifti insisted Tuesday that he had respected the recommendations of FIFA “point by point”.
Amrabat spent two nights under observation in hospital after the Iran game, but his coach Herve Renard hailed him as a “warrior” for playing the full 90 minutes against Portugal.
“Amrabat is a warrior, he wanted to play,” said the Frenchman after Wednesday’s match.
“He had the protection he took off during the match, his spirit is incredible and I feel happy to have such a player.
“After all, I’m not a doctor, the medical reports are read by competent people… Then they take their responsibilities and the player also takes his own responsibilities.”