Neco Williams: what happened to Wales defender - did he suffer a concussion during England World Cup match?

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Neco Williams was initially allowed to continue playing after suffering a head injury on the pitch in the match against England

Former England captain Alan Shearer has called for the introduction of temporary concussion substitutes after Wales defender Neco Williams was initially permitted to continue playing against England at the World Cup after having suffered a head injury.

Concussion controversy also arose during England’s opening game of the tournament when Iran goalkeeper Ali Beiranvand was allowed to briefly continue to play following a head-on collision with a teammate - a move that was branded an “utter disgrace” by brain injury charity Headway.

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What happened to Neco Williams?

During the first half of the Group B game in Qatar between Wales and England, full-back Williams was dazed and fell to the floor after blocking a powerful Marcus Rashford shot with the top of his head. The 21-year-old initially received treatment on the field and was allowed to continue to play.

A few minutes later, however, Williams went down and the decision to take him off the field was made by a doctor, with the defender replaced by Connor Roberts due to a suspected concussion.

Teams at the Qatar World Cup are able to make an extra substitution if a player has “suffered or is suspected to have suffered” a concussion. Each side is generally allowed five substitutions per game during the tournament, however there are some exceptions.

Wales’ Neco Williams receives treatment before leaving the pitch as a suspected concussion substitute during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo: PA)Wales’ Neco Williams receives treatment before leaving the pitch as a suspected concussion substitute during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo: PA)
Wales’ Neco Williams receives treatment before leaving the pitch as a suspected concussion substitute during the FIFA World Cup Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar. (Photo: PA) | PA

Only one concussion related substitution is permitted per team, with the opposing side granted their own extra substitution to avoid any advantage gained from the substitution.

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The injury comes after it was revealed that Williams played in Wales’ opening World Cup game against the USA in Doha one day after being told that his grandfather had passed away.

On Twitter, Williams wrote: “Yesterday was the toughest news I’ve ever had to face and that was listening to my mum tell me my grandad past away last night. To go from crying all day to start in a World Cup game was extremely tough but I got through it from the support of my team mates and family.”

What has Alan Shearer said?

Alan Shearer has called for the immediate introduction of temporary concussion substitutions after Williams was initially allowed to play on having suffered a head injury against England at the World Cup.

Shearer, the former England captain, called on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to enact prompt change.

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Speaking of temporary subs, Shearer told BBC One: “It has to come. I would say to IFAB, “What on earth are you waiting for?” because everyone is under pressure then to make a decision. You’ve got the doctors and the physios on the pitch trying to buy a little bit of time.

Alan Shearer during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on March 21, 2021 in Leicester, England (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)Alan Shearer during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on March 21, 2021 in Leicester, England (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)
Alan Shearer during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on March 21, 2021 in Leicester, England (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images) | Getty Images

“If they were able to get him off for 10 minutes, assess him, bring someone on and then make their mind up there rather than be put under huge pressure on the pitch [it would be an improvement].

“What on earth are IFAB waiting for? Do it now.”

Brain injury charity Headway also criticised the handling of the incident, tweeting: “YET AGAIN medics are given no options! A temporary concussion rule would have not resulted in Neco Williams being left on the pitch after #concussion. How many more?! #ENGWAL”.

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