Argentina's Javier Mascherano clashed heads with Georginio Wijnaldum of the Netherlands in the first half of Wednesday's World Cup semi-final.
He initially looked to be out cold with many suspecting he had sustained a concussion as he staggered and fell to the ground after the collision, per TopDrawerSoccer:
Mascherano shouldn’t be playing right now. https://t.co/2ytQgvNpWo— TopDrawerSoccer (@TopDrawerSoccer) July 9, 2014
Although he was eventually able to walk from the pitch, the overwhelming consensus seemed to be that he would not be allowed back on due to regulations on the safety of players with head injuries.
However, he did indeed return to the field of play to the consternation of many.
Despite his perceived willingness to return to the field there seemed to be a common feeling that he should not have been allowed to play on. CNN's James Masters criticised the move and providing FIFA's regulations on the matter, via Securing The Game:
The previous occurrence to which Masters refers goes back to England's game with Uruguay in the group stages. Alvaro Pereira of Uruguay displayed similar symptoms after a head injury but was still allowed back on to the pitch.
Football writer Will Parchman provides that incident and questions why FIFA's protocols are still seemingly being ignored when it comes to head injuries:
Brief reminder that we’ve also seen this happen pre-Mascherano. Still nothing. https://t.co/hN7eu6tF3G— Will Parchman (@WillParchman) July 9, 2014
ESPN's Taylor Twellman questions the organisation's ability to implement its own rules and feels its lack of action is putting players' lives at risk.
I fear for Mascherano right now. He has no clue what he is doing and because FIFA has no backbone to stand up and legislate it's trouble.— Taylor Twellman (@TaylorTwellman) July 9, 2014
Meanwhile, beIN Sports' Matteo Bonetti believes Mascherano should have been kept off the pitch while calling for tougher regulation on such incidents:
There's no way Mascherano should be allowed to play. That's a full-blown concussion. FIFA needs rules to prevent this. Too unsafe.— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) July 9, 2014
Football writer Philippe Auclair was imploring for Mascherano to be taken off, citing the potential long-term effects of such injuries:
Take Mascherano off, now. Do these people realize what concussion is and can lead to?— Philippe Auclair (@PhilippeAuclair) July 9, 2014
It does certainly seem that Mascherano's was an injury which could not have been properly diagnosed on the sidelines and thus, in the interests of safety, he should have not been allowed to return to the pitch.
The consensus seems to be that FIFA does not have a serious enough grip on how to deal with incidents of this nature and needs to act soon.
Whether or not the clash of heads will affect Mascherano in the long term remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that he looked in a bad way in the immediate aftermath of the incident and yet carried on playing.