Pictures of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris being allowed to play on despite suffering concussion were “horrific”, the House of Commons has heard.
Labour MP Chris Bryant said it was now up to Parliament to provide “a lead” on whether sports stars should be allowed to continue playing, after Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas failed to immediately substitute the injured goalkeeper during his team’s match against Everton.
Lloris was knocked unconscious in an accidental collision with striker Romelu Lukaku in Sunday’s goalless Premier League draw.
Controversially, Villas-Boas allowed Lloris to remain on the field of play for the remaining 12 minutes of the game.
There was a strong backlash against the decision but the Portuguese manager insisted he stood by the decision.
On Thursday Mr Bryant – who has played for the Parliamentary rugby team – raised the issue in the House of Commons.
In a question to Commons Leader, Andrew Lansley, he said: “(Even non-football fans) will have seen the horrific pictures last Sunday of the Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris being concussed on the pitch and yet being forced to go back on and play.
“Can we have an urgent debate as soon as possible on the dangers of concussion in sport so that we can provide a lead?
“There is real evidence that people, when they are forced to play again after being concussed, can all too easily end up suffering from premature dementia.”
Mr Lansley said there could be a backbench business debate on the subject.
Speaking outside of the House of Commons, Mr Bryant said he was not convinced football was doing enough to deal with the problem of head injuries.
He said: “The first thing is that is should be up to sports to decide what they should do but there are real dangers and different sports have taken this with different levels of seriousness.
“Whilst it is great to have doctors pitch-side making decisions, it might be best if someone has a head injury to automatically take them off.
“I think rugby still has some way to go and is taking it seriously but I am not convinced that football is taking it seriously enough.
“I know there are commercial interests in keeping players on the pitch but there is a long-term health interest in taking precautionary action.
“I think what the Government should be doing is bringing sports together.
“It’s not just what happens at a top level but what happens when children are playing in a match on a Sunday afternoon.
“The basic point should be if in doubt, stay out.”
**** I’ve wanted Hugo Lloris to gain recognition for his superb skills while in France. He’s getting the recognition all right, just not the one the fans would have wanted.