Chris Sutton slams lack of dementia action during parliamentary hearing

Chris Sutton speaking during the digital, culture, media and sport committee meeting

Chris Sutton speaking during the digital, culture, media and sport committee meeting on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - Credit: Parliamentlive.tv

Former Norwich City footballer Chris Sutton has told a parliamentary hearing he is fed up with the lack of action being taken to prevent head injuries and dementia in the sport. 

Speaking during a Department of Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS] session on Tuesday, Mr Sutton said hundreds of players would die if preventative measures were not implemented soon. 

Mr Sutton has been an active campaigner on the issue of head injuries in sport, having seen his father Mike die on December 26, 2020 after a long battle with Alzheimer's following his career in football.

Norwich City player Chris Sutton and his father Mike Sutton. Photo: Archant Library

Norwich City player Chris Sutton and his father Mike Sutton. Photo: Archant Library - Credit: Archant Library

The former striker, who lives in north Norfolk, said the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) and Football Association (FA) had "not done enough" and had "ignored, shunned and turned their back" on the problem. 

Mr Sutton spoke alongside other sporting witnesses such as Jeff Astle's daughter Dawn and former England rugby union international Kyran Bracken during the three-hour hearing. 

Mr Sutton told the DCMS session that each football team should be limited to a maximum of 20 headers during training sessions, with a minimum of 48 hours between sessions to "lessen the load". 

"We do not need to keep have meetings about meetings about this," Mr Sutton said. "This needs to happen immediately because hundreds, if not thousands, of players have died from dementia and if we do not get on top of this now, this is just going to carry on and carry on." 

Mr Sutton said outgoing PFA chief Gordon Taylor has "blood on his hands" over the lack of action. 

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He also referred to the permanent concussion substitution discussions in professional football, stating temporary concussion replacements should be ratified now. 

"They do not have the players' welfare and health at heart with that," Mr Sutton said. 

The football pundit, who played for Norwich between 1991 and 1994, also told the hearing the meeting should have taken place 20 years ago. 

Mr Sutton said: "Hundreds of players have died including my father. He was not a big household name. We are not just talking about the professional game here. We do not even know what has happened in the amateur game and this is something we need to deal with."