Gordon Taylor, the head of the PFA – Professional Footballers Association, denies on Tuesday that his organization had “fallen asleep” in a case of dementia during a parliamentary inquiry investigating the contradiction in sports.
The union leader was asked by British MPs about the criticism of the PFA by activists for recording research into the possible link between head injuries and neurodegenerative disorders. Don Astle’s father Jeff, who had a long career with West Bromwich Albion, faced a long battle with dementia before his death in 2002.
Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton has accused Taylor of having “blood on his hands” in connection with the dementia problem. Satan’s father, Mike, a former professional sportsman, died in December last year after suffering from it.
Julian Knight, chairman of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee of the House of Commons, asked Taylor if the union had “fallen asleep” behind the issue.
Taylor defended his organization, saying, “I never slept on it.” This is a very emotional subject. “Chris Sutton is one of the people I talk to decently. I tried to explain, he was offered help with his father, who was a contemporary of mine while I was playing.”
“They were given a chance to come, to see what we are doing and what we intend to do in the future. I am always ready to put my head on the parapet because what we do should be. I am ready to do this to anyone.”
Brain expert Willie Stewart told the commission last month that football’s management was a “threat” to head injuries, but Taylor disagreed. “It’s a ridiculous thing to say,” he said. “This is a severe matter to which we pay serious attention.”
Taylor also praised the players’ role in derailing the European Super League separatist project. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson and Manchester City’s Ilke Gundogan were among those who protested against plans involving Liverpool, City, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Tottenham.
Players from other clubs also played outside the so-called “Big Six”, with Leeds staging their protests by wearing T-shirts. “Above all, they have shown how much they care about the fans,” said Taylor, who also criticized the newly expanded Champions League format, which begins in 2024, in favor of quality over quantity.