Football and Heading: The Situation in 2020

The Number of footballers who died from dementia

Since 2017, the number of footballers who have died from dementia has increased. Some of these soccer players are shown in the video below. There were more footballers who were diagnosed of dementia in 2020 including the 1966 World Cup winner Bobby Charlton.

The late Duncan Forbes

The former Norwich City footballer, Duncan Forbes, also died of dementia (in 2019). The video below briefly discusses his life.

Recent Research

Research from Glasgow University has shown a clear association between playing football and dementia in later life. Playing football involves heading a football and suffering from ‘head contacts. The published academic research can be used to suggest that the risk of dementia is serious enough to require rule changes to the game of football.

Heading footballs, and the related head contacts, needs to be treated like smoking. This is because heading a football can seriously damage your health (see the video below).

Football is the new boxing

There is a danger that former footballers are suffering from dementia in a similar way to former boxers. Arguably, football is the new boxing with footballers suffering from boxer’s brain or CTE.

Policy Options to deal with dementia

It is too simplistic to argue for a prohibition on heading of footballs because such a ban would be too difficult and so too expensive to enforce. Nevertheless, the policy options to deal with dementia need to be addressed (see below).


An argument that playing football is not leading to dementia needs to outline a better explanation for the dementia in former footballers; other than playing soccer. Until then, society needs to be concerned that playing football is causing dementia and a £1,000 charge on the broadcasting of football is appropriate. See the video on policy options which is above.


The word 'fine' or 'charge' is better than tax. However, the point is the same as heading footballs should be seen as a demerit good like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. Both alcohol and smoking are taxed.