The first semifinal of the 2018 World Cup featured heavyweights France and Belgium, and there were several inspiring moments throughout the match. Unfortunately, a Blaise Matuidi concussion in the 82nd minute and the insufficient treatment he received left many fans in disbelief for all the wrong reasons.
Earlier this tournament we saw Morocco's training staff show the world how not to treat a concussion. Although soccer has made some strides with its concussion protocol, far too often there are cases in which a player does not receive adequate treatment.
Matuidi was lying on the pitch immediately after colliding with Belgium's Eden Hazard, and France's trainers rushed onto the field to treat him. After a minute on the ground, the training staff brought out a stretcher for Matuidi, and it was clear he had suffered some sort of head injury.
With France having yet to use a substitute, it seemed unthinkable that Didier Deschamps would not replace him with one of his world-class options on the bench. Instead, holding midfielder Steven N'Zonzi came into the match for striker Olivier Giroud.
And that was a mistake. Matuidi was allowed back onto the pitch, and he lasted all of two minutes before collapsing.
— The18 (@the18com) July 10, 2018
It's true trainers need more than a couple of minutes to accurately diagnose a concussion. And the flow of a soccer match means a lengthy evaluation either requires a manager to make a substitution or play a man down for an extended period of time. Neither option is ideal.
But more often than not, it's pretty obvious when a manager should sub off an injured player. When the stretcher comes out, trainers are running through a concussion examination and there are 10 minutes left in the match, it's time to make a change.
A rule change that would give teams the chance to re-insert a player who underwent evaluation for a concussion could be useful. The main issue though is rarely with the current rules. It instead has to do with common sense.
The mentality around concussions in soccer needs to get better. It's not worth taking a chance to see if a player just got his "bell rung." The doubt over whether an injury was a concussion should be enough to remove a player from a game.
The Matuidi concussion gave soccer fans another look at how not to treat a concussion. It's time for FIFA to make sure this situation doesn't repeat itself yet again.