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Football authorities 'need to investigate dementia link'

Football authorities 'need to investigate dementia link'
7th April 2014

The son of a former football manager has called on the relevant authorities to investigate the links between the sport and dementia.

Andy MacLeod, whose father Ally was the head coach of Scotland, believes his dad's dementia-related death was due to years of playing the game.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, he said: "Unless we carry out serious studies to assess these players with cognitive baseline testing and monitor them throughout their careers we are going to see players of today's generation possibly getting early onset dementia in the future."

He also asked why the Football Association had not learned any lessons, as the same mistakes being made today have been made throughout the game's history.

Ally MacLeod died in 2004 at the age of 72 following an illustrious career, in which he took Scotland to the World Cup in Argentina and became good friends with Sir Alex Ferguson.

His son stated that he knows a number of former professionals who are beginning to show early signs of dementia. Although they have not yet gone public, he urged them to do so in order to raise awareness.

He said: "It's a big step to come out publicly and say one of your loved ones is suffering early dementia but unless we can establish the numbers we don’t know how big the problem is."

The issue is of growing concern in the UK, with the Mail claiming to have identified 47 former footballers who have been diagnosed with the disease over the past 20 years.

Ex-player and manager Chris Turner was revealed to be one of these individuals recently, after his wife Lynne spoke out.

Mr MacLeod dismissed any suggestion that dementia wasn't a big issue in football because it isn't as physically aggressive as sports such as rugby or American football.

Repetitive blows to the head, he says, are the same regardless of the game you are playing.

Find out about dementia care and support services at Barchester care homes.