By Our Reporter
Abuja (Precise Post) – The death of the former Wales and Cardiff City defender Keith Pontin may have been linked to heading the ball during his football career, an inquest has heard.
Pontin played for Cardiff between 1976 and 1983, winning two caps for Wales but was diagnosed with dementia in 2015, at the age of 59.
His family later said they believed his condition was linked to years of heading the football and multiple concussions during his career. Pontypridd coroner’s court heard Pontin died at the Royal Glamorgan hospital on 2 August last year, aged 64.
Graeme Hughes, the senior coroner for South Wales Central, opened and adjourned an inquest into Pontin’s death. “I am content to hold an inquest touching on the death of the late Keith Pontin,” Hughes said. “I do so because of the evidence I have received from my officers and from preliminary postmortem investigations.
“There is reason to suspect that Mr Pontin’s death may have been unnatural in that his death may have been caused or contributed to by his work in that during his earlier life, he was a professional footballer.
“There is some evidence within the medical investigations that have been undertaken so far which would suggest a causal or contributory link between his career in football and the development of his Alzheimer’s disease and his cause of death as chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is not the final inquest, I haven’t heard all the evidence. The investigation will continue.”
Hughes said a full inquest into Pontin’s death would not take place until 3 May 2022, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The news came on the day it was announced the England manager, Gareth Southgate, will take part in a study looking at the potential links between dementia and playing the game. Southgate has volunteered to be part of the Heading study at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, which is backed by the Football Association and funded by the Drake Foundation.
The potential link between increased risk of neurodegenerative disorder and a career in the game has been highlighted again in recent months following confirmation of England World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton’s dementia diagnosis, along with the death of his brother Jack and their 1966 teammate Nobby Stiles, who had both been suffering with dementia when they died.
Southgate said: “This is an incredibly important issue in our game and I’m very happy to play my part in supporting this research. Having turned 50 last year, I am now eligible to take part in the Heading study, which could provide crucial and valuable insight to help people who play the game now and in the future.
“I would encourage any former professional footballer who is willing and able to take part in the Heading or the Focus study to do so. Our involvement is absolutely essential if we are to have a greater understanding of this issue; and their support for the studies can be done from their home, either online or over the phone.”
Meanwhile, concussion substitutes will first be used in the Premier League from 6 February. A joint statement from the league and the Football Association set out the timetable for the new protocol, which will enable teams to make up to two additional permanent concussion substitutes in a match.
The new rules will first come into force in the FA Cup from next month’s fifth round, the FA confirmed, and will be used in the Women’s Super League and Championship from 6 February. (The Guardian)