Concussion information and AFC procedures

Illustration by Patrick J. Lynch, distributed under a cc-by-2.5 license

Illustration by Patrick J. Lynch, distributed under a cc-by-2.5 license

Everyone involved in youth sports is becoming aware of the risks associated with concussions. While official concussion policies are still in development, AFC is adopting policies already published and available in the information and links below (if you’re an AFC referee, there’s more information for you below):

•  US Club Soccer’s information on concussions and head injuries

•  USSF’s concussion guidelines, scroll to the bottom of the page for fact sheets for athletes, coaches, and parents

•  CDC action plan on concussion in soccer—this is a handy reference that can be a great part of your first aid kit

•  NorCal Premier League’s information on concussions

Additionally, every team will be required to have at least one of their officials (coach, assistant coach, manager) complete the online CDC training program on head trauma.  This is a simple 20-30 minute course that explains what concussions are, how to detect them, avoid them and how to deal with players you feel may have suffered one.  As mentioned, this will be a requirement of every team.

Below are the guidelines for referees in handling head injuries:

    1. Once you detect head injuries, STOP PLAY.


    1. Evaluate the injury quickly and call the coach on to the pitch.


    1. Obviously if the coach comes on to the pitch then that injured player MUST leave the pitch.


    1. What if the injured player is a goalkeeper?  Current rule indicates that the goalkeeper could stay on the pitch even if the coach enters the field.  This is where we will bend the rule.  If the coach insists that he wants the goalkeeper to stay on the pitch then use your best personal judgement and tell him nicely that the keeper needs to leave the field and he could always sub him in at the next opportunity.


  1. I also know that some of you are thinking that WHAT IF, the coach refuses to enter the field of the play to evaluate the injured player knowing that the player will have to leave the pitch.  Again use your best personal judgement and inform the coach that if he wants the game to continue, please look at your injured player and he has the option of substituting him/her back in at the next opportunity.