Assessing the impact of concussion

Concussion in Sport Australia has launched its position statement and website to delve deeper into treating concussion symptoms and developing the best code of practice.

Leading sports medicine experts are aiming to inform players, coaches, officials and parents on the best approach for concussion symptoms.

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), the Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Australasian College of Sport and Exercise Physicians (ACSEP) and Sports Medicine Australia (SMA) have all come together to form Concussion in Sport which creates awareness.

Receiving a head knock during sport has long been known as something a player could just shake off and continue playing with in an act of toughness, but with greater research comes better understanding as to why concussion is a serious injury.

If someone has got multiple concussions in their playing career, it could lead to long-term effects – particularly with the brain involved.

Concussion in Sport Australia has a simple message as winter sporting codes begin or soon to start their seasons – if you don’t feel right sit out.

Headaches are prevalent following a concussion and when that occurs following a concussion, it’s best to rest up and not make it worse.

It’s exactly like any injury where if someone feels a bit sore they might not play the next week. Concussion is one of those things that sporting clubs should take extra care with.

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Liam Watson is the Co-Founder & Publisher of Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy, industry matters and technology.

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America must fix issues before co-hosting 2026 World Cup

Copa America 2024 has kicked off the knockout stages with plenty of goals and drama on the pitch, but that has quickly been overshadowed by low attendances, poor pitch quality and sky high ticket prices leaving many fans, players and coaches stranded and confused.

In what can be seen as a prelude to a landmark 2026 FIFA World Cup, the USA have already shown signs of failing to host a major football event in a country where grassroots participation and attendances for the sport desperately need a revival.

These have been the main issues so far at the event that are in the spotlight if the US want to correctly co-host the biggest tournament with Mexico and Canada in the sport.

Attendance numbers

If the sweltering heat and embarrassing broadcast camera angles weren’t already bad enough, the US Men’s national team failed to sell out any of their three group stage matches, with a controversial 47,873 crowd for the opener against Bolivia in an 80,000 seat AT&T Stadium.

The comparison is to put it side-by-side with the Euros currently in Germany, where there have been no issues packing out stadiums with capacities of up to 75,000 and tickets selling out months in advance.

Fan culture is rife with many fan zones and packed watching venues keeping the streets busy with football fandom which is just completely non-existent in the US.

But there is a reason for all of this, and it can’t be for a lack of interest after Fox Sports confirmed that the must-win USA-Uruguay contest attracted an average of 3.78 million viewers on FS1.

According to Fox Sports, that was the largest audience to see a a match that isn’t a World Cup on FS1 and the highest-ever English-language viewership total in the United States for a Copa America match.

It smashed previous Copa America games so far, but it never translated to support in the stadium which gives the hosts slight encouragement on finding a solution to fix this problem.

Ticket Prices

Fans at the event are consistently being priced out, leading directly to the poor attendance numbers and lack of atmosphere.

The lowest ticket price for the quarterfinal matches of the Euros were as low as $96 to watch world-class teams such as Spain, Germany and France whilst in the Copa America, Ticketmaster and Seat Geek in the US had fans pay minimum of $163 for quarterfinal tickets.

This is without factoring in the travel expenses going from state to state versus the easily accessible matches in Germany that can be travelled via affordable public transport.

The NFL and NBA have some of the highest average ticket prices in all of domestic sporting leagues across the world, but the demand and entertainment offered gives fans a reason to accept its value. A sport like soccer in the US would thrive from its affordability and encourage any sports fan to give it a go.

Pitch Quality

Players and coaches have come out in the media to criticise the pitch quality in the Copa America so far, claiming the inconsistencies have negatively affected team performance and the way teams prepare for matches.

Emi Martinez and Weston McKennie’s harsh words after matchday 1 forced a statement out of CONMEBOL who defended the state of the pitches, too much controversy.

It simply has to change for 2026 if it wants to remain fit to host football’s grandest event.

With the 2026 World Cup set to be played in many of the same venues across the United States, each new controversy over pitch conditions at Copa América accentuates the ongoing concerns about the quality of the venues and the difficulty of using NFL stadiums for football.

Conclusion

Affordability is the biggest issue needing to change going into the 2026 World Cup.

Ticket prices must be affordable to account for the hike in prices across the country for travel and accommodation.

With the 2026 World Cup held in three geographically large countries, fans will be forked to shell out thousands on travel if scheduled to play in differing countries and states.

However, overall, this World Cup has real potential to live up to the success of 1994 that saw the sport boom in popularity in North America and that surge in popularity is definitely required for the future of the sport in the US.

A-League clubs to be given only $530k in funding for next season

The Australian Professional Leagues (APL) have confirmed the annual grants distributed to A-League clubs will be slashed close to 75 per cent for the upcoming 2024/25 season.

After an APL board meeting, clubs were informed that next year’s distribution would total to just $530,000, from $2 million the season before.

The A-League Men minimum spending floor is $2.25 million with a salary cap limit of $2.6 million.

For wealthier clubs such as Melbourne City, they would be able to cover the remaining costs to reach the minimum spending floor. However, this would leave smaller clubs in the A-League in a much more complex financial position.

Back in 2018, before separating from Football Australia, the annual club distribution was around $3.6 million.

APL Chair Stephen Conroy released a statement concerning the significant financial cuts.

“The decision, which has been under discussion with league and Board representatives over the past few months, aligns with the Board’s commercial review of the A-Leagues since the original three-year strategy came to an end,” Conroy said via the A-Leagues website.

“We are committed to right-sizing the A-Leagues which is why we’ve been focused on cutting costs across the leagues, growing our core football product and uniting the football pyramid to support the growth of our game.

“The Board, the Leagues and the Clubs are committed to continuing to deliver the best football possible. We have our eye firmly on the future. Our core metrics are positive, with three years of growth, which will position the league for revenue growth in the future.”

These recent deductions raise many questions about how the APL and A-Leagues ended up in this financial conundrum and where has their money gone over the last couple of years?

One of the main reasons the APL was forced to make these financial cuts was due to overspending on its website, KEEPUP.

Launched in 2021 during the peak of COVID, the former APL CEO Danny Townsend said the cost to set up the league’s digital content production arm was estimated to be around $30 million. However, the site was not popular with the fans who criticised the app and website for not solely focusing on Australian football.

Despite showing potential, the APL went overboard very early and now has to deal with the consequences of it.

Another key event that has contributed to the recent financial issues dates back to December 2022, where the league signed a controversial deal with Destination NSW to host the A-Leagues Grand Finals in Sydney regardless of which teams qualified. The deal – which was worth an estimated eight-figure sum – received a lot of backlash from fans leading to protests such as the infamous pitch invasion during the Melbourne Derby.

Even former Adelaide United player and Socceroo Craig Goodwin, who was involved in the promotional video for Destination NSW and the A-League Grand Finals, posted a tweet saying he did not support the partnership. However, the league eventually turned their back on the deal after just one season.

The A-Leagues has also struggled to gain revenue from its current TV-rights deal with Paramount+ and Network 10 due to the numerous targets that the A-Leagues must meet to guarantee funding from their broadcast partner. The initial deal which was signed before the 2021/22 A-Leagues season was worth $200 million over five years.

After one season these goals were not met, it led to the Destination NSW deal. Also the decrease in subscribers due to issues with Paramount+, such as the inability to pause and rewind as well as significant streaming issues, combined with the lack of popularity and publicity of the league resulted in the APL only taking $5 million from the deal last season.

With broadcasting deals being such an integral aspect of generating income in the footballing world, the fact the APL only received such a small sum from a deal where they could have received much more is a big reason for their financial difficulties.

Despite the APL chair Stephen Conroy claiming the reductions in central distribution has come as no shock to clubs, this is a worrying time for the A-Leagues. The APL will need to find quick and responsible solutions to combat their financial difficulties if they want the leagues to continue to be operational and have some sort of future to expand and grow.

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