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Loris Karius ordeal: Dad of of rugby death boy says sport must act on concussion

By Allan Preston

The father of a boy who died from a concussion-related injury after playing rugby has called for a culture change in football.

Peter Robinson was speaking after it emerged Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius was suffering from concussion during the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.

Mr Robinson's son Ben was 14 when he died in 2011.

Since then he has become a high-profile campaigner to raise safety standards in sport.

Ben's death led to concussion awareness programmes being organised by schools in Northern Ireland and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

The Carrickfergus Grammar pupil was in several heavy tackles during a January 2011 game against Dalriada, and was momentarily knocked out at the start of the second half of play.

At his inquest in 2013 the coroner ruled that Ben had died as a result of second-impact syndrome, which happens when a blow causes swelling to the brain before it has recovered fully from an earlier injury.

Karius (24) was at fault for two of Real Madrid's goals in the 3-1 defeat on May 26.

Video footage from early in the second half appeared to show Real captain Sergio Ramos elbowing him in the head.

Doctors in the United States examined the German days later and concluded he had suffered from a "visual-spatial dysfunction" which affects the ability to process visual information.

They couldn't say for certain whether he sustained the concussion during the Ramos collision or if it affected his performance.

Mr Robinson claimed Karius had been failed on the night.

"He should have been removed, we all saw that replay," he said.

"If they had the video referee like they do in international rugby, that could have been used.

"At grassroots level we're taking kids off.

"But what message does that send when players like Karius have to stay on in a Champions League final with all the back-up they have?

"That's why we have the protocol at grassroots sports: 'If in doubt, sit them out'.

"The risk is you're keeping a brain-injured player on the pitch, and unfortunately our family know what that can lead to."

Karius has faced online abuse since the defeat, with many dismissing the concussion diagnosis as an excuse.

"We'll never know with Karius because he wasn't tested till afterwards," Mr Robinson added.

"The lad had a concussion and should have been removed.

"Rather than saying 'that's an excuse, they were beat', we need to change the culture.

"A brain injury is slightly different than playing on with a bad achilles.

"The players need to be protected from themselves.

"We've found from kids right up to elite athletes, everyone wants to play on, they're all in that red mist."

"So he was let down by the people that are supposed to be there to protect him," he claimed.

Mr Robinson coaches football here and said more parents now felt empowered to voice injury concerns.

But he added that changing attitudes would take time.

Belfast Telegraph

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