NYON Switzerland (Reuters) - Referees will stop matches for up to three minutes and the team doctor will decide if a player can continue in cases of concussion under new procedures to be used in European competitions, UEFA said on Thursday.
Secretary general Gianni Infantino said the procedures, approved by the executive committee of European soccer's governing body, would be introduced immediately.
"If there is a concussion incident, the referee can stop the game for up to three minutes to allow the player to be assessed by a team doctor and the player will only be allowed to continue playing on the specific recommendation of the doctor to the referee," Infantino told reporters.
The decision followed several concussion incidents at this year's World Cup in Brazil.
In the most publicised, Uruguay's Alvaro Pereira and Argentina's Javier Mascherano were both allowed to continue playing despite clear signs of concussion while Germany's Christoph Kramer appeared to lose consciousness in the final and was only substituted several minutes later. Pereira got up and staggered on after being knocked out cold in the match against England, pushing away medical staff who wanted him substituted. He later described it as a "moment of madness".
Last month, England's Football Association tightened its rules, stating that, from next season, players losing consciousness or suffering concussion would not be allowed to play on.
The world players' union FIFPro had called for independent doctors to decide whether players could continue, but Infantino said UEFA's medical committee had decided this was not viable.
"It's not feasible to get an independent doctor who knows the player well enough to make an assessment in a couple of minutes and who speaks the language," he said.
"It's the team doctor who can immediately see the situation, he is the most reliable person to take this responsibility."
UEFA also ratified the introduction of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) for use in the Champions League from next season.
"Doping that may not be detected by direct analysis could be shown in changes in the player’s biological profile," UEFA said in a statement, echoing a system brought in by cycling.
Editing by Mark Meadows