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Lloris life 'put at risk', says former Chelsea team doctor

updated 6:49 PM EST, Mon November 4, 2013
Hugo Lloris wanted to continue playing despite being inadvertently poleaxed by Romelu Lukaku at Everton's Goodison Park.
Hugo Lloris wanted to continue playing despite being inadvertently poleaxed by Romelu Lukaku at Everton's Goodison Park.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Former Chelsea team doctor critical of Tottenham's handling of Lloris concussion
  • Spurs issue statement defending actions during match at Everton's Goodison Park
  • British players' union calls for change in the rules to how head injuries are treated

(CNN) -- Tottenham Hotspur medical staff were putting Hugo Lloris' life at risk by leaving him on the field after he suffered concussion at Everton, the former head doctor at Chelsea has told CNN.

Dr Ralph Rogers, the first team doctor at the English Premier League side between 2009 and 2010, believes Tottenham's medical staff erred in their treatment of the Frenchman at Goodison Park.

"I don't want to be critical of the doctor in question but this is a time to reflect because next time, we have to ensure we get it right," said Rogers.

Lloris suffered concussion after being accidentally hit in the head by the knee of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku late in the game, with play held up for nine minutes as he received treatment.

To widespread surprise, Lloris -- who could not remember the incident after the match -- was allowed to continue after saying that he wanted to stay on the pitch.

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Both world governing body FIFA and the global players' union FIFPro criticized the decision-making progress employed by the Tottenham staff, who say they followed procedure when assessing the state of the France captain.

"Once the relevant tests and assessments were carried out we were totally satisfied that he was fit to continue playing," Spurs' Head of Medical Services Wayne Diesel said on the club website.

Local FA rules state that any player who leaves the pitch with a head injury should "not be allowed to resume playing or training without the clearance of a qualified medical practitioner" even if such an injury is sustained in training.

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Tottenham's medical staff have come under fire for their actions, which come 18 months after they were widely praised for saving the life of visiting Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba, whose heart stopped beating during a game at White Hart Lane.

Nonetheless, Rogers is unhappy with the way in which Lloris was treated on the pitch, saying the goalkeeper was allowed to move too freely before a more comprehensive treatment had taken place.

"Lloris could have died, he could have been paralyzed," said Rogers. "If knocked out with a head injury, he should have been carried off the pitch -- but first and foremost, they should have checked his spine."

"He needed to have a collar put around his neck, blocks applied to either side of his head, to have been strapped in and then a spinal board placed underneath him in order to determine any injury to his cervical spine."

After declining to specifically address Rogers' assertions, Tottenham referred CNN to the earlier statement made by Diesel.

On Monday, the Professional Footballers' Association, the body that looks after the welfare of footballers in England and Wales, called for a change in the rules surrounding head injuries.

"If anyone suffers a severe trauma to the head and loses consciousness, then they should be required to leave the field of play automatically," said PFA deputy chief executive John Bramhall.

Chain of Command

After the match, Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas said he had taken the final decision to send Lloris back onto the pitch following consultation with his medical staff.

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For Rogers, such an admission lies at the heart of a weakness he believes exists within the game.

"The problem is that no one knows who's boss at present on such an issue," he said.

"Traditionally, it has been the physiotherapist but does he know more than the team doctor? If you go to hospital, it's not the nurse but the doctor who ultimately looks after you. A physio has fewer qualifications.

"I strongly believe that the doctor should be the team leader above both the manager and referee. He has to be strong enough to make that crucial decision, because at the end of the day it's not about the club, it's about the doctor looking after the player.

"If I had been in the same situation, I would have ordered Lloris' removal from the pitch, telling all concerned that if they didn't like my decisions, then they could fire me in the coming days."

FIFPro backed Rogers' viewpoint on the chain of command in a statement which called the decision to keep Lloris on the pitch 'unacceptable'.

"FIFPro condemns that the health and safety of players are let to coaches/trainers or even to players themselves," said the body's Medical Advisor Vincent Gouttebarge.

"Medical professionals should be aware of any relevant medical guidelines and apply them in order to empower the health and safety on the field. The health and safety of the players should be the number one priority and should prevail against any other matters."

Read: NFL in multi-million dollar concussion settlement

The issue of concussion has become a major talking point in sports such as rugby and the NFL in recent times.

Three months ago, the NFL reached a settlement worth $765 million with 4,500 former players who sued the organization over claims it hid the potential impact of concussion-related injuries.

In rugby, Dr Barry O'Driscoll -- the uncle of Ireland star Brian -- quit his seat on the International Rugby Board's medical committee in protest at a new method of dealing with head injuries.

New guidelines stipulate that a player can return to the pitch five minutes after injury if a medical inspection entitled the Pitch-Side Concussion Assessment determines he has not been knocked out.

Once upon a time, the rules stated that a player had to wait three weeks before returning to the fray.

Lloris was given less than ten minutes in a clattering that so badly damaged Lukaku's knee the Everton striker was forced off the field.

Earlier this season, Lukaku was praised for finishing a game against West Ham despite suffering a concussion himself when scoring late on -- a difference in media coverage that Spurs fans may point to when considering the outcry over Lloris.

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