About 28 minutes into the Women’s World Cup semifinal between Germany and the United States on Tuesday, German midfielder Alexandra Popp and American midfielder Morgan Brian competed to head a ball near the U.S. goal area—and they ended up heading each other in a nasty, forceful collision. Both players remained on the ground for several minutes, and though Popp’s injury looked worse, thanks to copious blood, Brian looked truly dazed when she finally stood up.
Amazingly—or not so amazingly, if you know anything about the way head injuries are usually handled in professional soccer matches—both players were quickly back on the pitch soon after play continued a few minutes later, Popp’s hair streaked with blood, Brian’s expression still not looking right, in the words of USWNT alum Julie Foudy. It’s too early to know how serious the players’ injuries were, but it’s obvious that if FIFA had a sane, reasonable concussion protocol, neither would have resumed play so quickly. Unfortunately, nothing is likely to change as long as FIFA continues to get a free pass from its broadcaster, Fox Sports. During halftime, Fox analyst and former Germany player Ariane Hingst said “she looked like she was concussed, but well done by the players to stay on and play.” No, that is the opposite of well done.