Ifab to talk in Edinburgh about heart monitor chip
Football lawmakers’ will be asked in Edinburgh next month to allow trials of an electronic chip in players’ shirts which could potentially warn of medical problems such as the heart attack suffered by Fabrice Muamba on the pitch.
The laws of the game currently ban any electronic communication between the players and staff in the technical area. Now the International FA Board (Ifab), the body which draws up the laws, has been asked to consider making an exception for chips contained in the collar of a player’s shirt which can feed back data such as heart performance, body temperature and the distance being covered.
Ifab is made up of the four home nations, who have a vote apiece, and Fifa, which has four votes, and the issue is being brought before its annual meeting at the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh on 3 March. It is understood Fifa is wary about allowing the electronic chips but Stewart Regan, chief executive of the Scottish FA, said it was a “no brainer” if there were medical benefits, especially if they could warn of problems similar to those experienced by former Bolton midfielder Muamba.
Regan said: “There may well be medical benefits. These chips can monitor heart performance, distance run, changes in a person’s body functions what’s operating differently to how it was in the first half. We are looking at whether there are medical benefits, such as whether it can warn of problems such as Fabrice Muamba suffered, which would make it a no brainer. We are trying to consider whether or not things can make a positive difference in the game rather than just another example of technology being brought in. There is a chip in the shirt at the back of the player’s neck and the data is fed back into a laptop.”
Regan said there needed to be a differentiation between coaches in the technical area not being permitted electronic communication with players, and wants to see if there is any scope to allow the chips both for tools to help coaches make decisions and for possible medical benefits.
“There is one school of thought that it’s a pure game and shouldn’t be any technology and another that thinks if you can make players medically safer why shouldn’t it be considered?”
The issue has been put onto the Ifab agenda by the SFA but it is likely the body will ask for a trial to take place before any permanent decision is made. Muamba collapsed during an FA Cup tie at Tottenham in March last year. His heart stopped for 78 minutes before doctors saved him and he has made a full recovery though he will not play professionally again.
It is understood that other Ifab members would support any medical uses but have reservations about the chip being used purely to help coaches.
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