Senegal have been criticized after Sadio Mane continued to play despite suffering a suspected concussion in a ‘sickening collision’ with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha.
Mane remained on the pitch for several minutes as he appeared to have suffered a head injury during the incident in Tuesday’s Africa Cup of Nations game.
The Liverpool striker scored before eventually being substituted.
The Headway Brain Injury Association said Mane’s health had been put at risk.
“On the face of it, this appears to be another example of football putting results before player safety,” said Luke Griggs, assistant general manager at Headway.
“It was a sickening collision that clearly left both players distressed enough that a concussion was surely considered a possibility at the very least. At this point the principle of ‘when in doubt, rest easy!’ should have resulted in Mane being substituted without another ball being kicked.”
Vozinha was sent off for the challenge with Mane and had to be helped off the pitch when he was visibly unsteady on his feet.
Mane, however, remained on the pitch, despite appearing to lose consciousness during the incident. Six minutes later, he scored an excellent goal for Senegal, before lying down on the halfway line.
Only then was he replaced.
“The image of the player collapsing to the ground and having to be helped from the pitch after scoring his goal should tell you everything you need to know about the impact and effect it had on his brain,” said added Griggs.
“Again, the desire to win is seen as a serious health threat to players. It’s just shocking that it continues to happen.”
“Now is a real test of leadership for the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and world governing body Fifa — especially if Senegal declare Mane fit for Sunday’s quarter-finals.
“If football is to be taken seriously when it comes to concussion, it simply needs to take steps to enforce and reinforce its protocols.”
In a statement from the Senegalese federation, team doctor Dr Abdourahmane Fedior said Mane had been ‘substituted due to the dizziness he had on the pitch’ after scoring.
“After that, we felt it was safer to take him to the hospital for a scan which revealed no brain damage or bone damage. We left the hospital a few moments later and went at the hotel. For now, he feels fine.
“All the symptoms he had on the pitch have disappeared. This however needs to be followed closely and we will see in two days how he is feeling.
“He needs to rest and get back to training step by step.”
The Liverpool medical team will speak to their Senegalese counterparts about Mane’s condition, although it is normal to have regular contact with all international teams, particularly when a player is injured.
Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly has denied that Mane’s health was put at risk by being allowed to continue playing.
“It wasn’t risky at all. He was the one who scored the goal after that,” the Napoli defender said.
“When we saw after the goal that he was a bit disoriented we preferred to replace him. I asked him if he wanted to leave the pitch and he said yes. ”