Football and dementia: Alan Jarvis inquest to explore heading link
Mohammed yazidu Abdullahi
Jun. 01, 2020
The death of a former Wales international footballer may have been linked to his career and could be regarded as an "industrial disease," a coroner has said.
Alan Jarvis played for Everton and Hull City in the 1960s and 1970s, winning three caps for his country.
The 76-year-old, who was thought to have dementia, died at a nursing home in Mold, Flintshire, in December.
Coroner John Gittins has opened his inquest at Ruthin.
He said neuropathology had been undertaken and that Jarvis' death and a possible link to heading a football would be explored further at a full hearing.
Mr Jarvis played for Wales against England's 1966 World Cup winning squad, earning his other caps against Scotland and Northern Ireland.
His daughter, Sarah Jarvis, of Northop, Flintshire, said his family had arranged to have his brain donated to researchers at the University of Glasgow after his death.
Ms Jarvis said Dr Willie Stewart, who is studying the possible link between heading a football and brain damage , examined it in January and passed his report to the coroner.
She said she believed heading had been to blame for the difficulties her father faced in later life - including the loss of his speech.
Ms Jarvis said the family hoped his inquest would increase "knowledge" and that, while heading has been banned for children under 12 during training , changes in the adult game might not be necessary.
"My family loves watching football, so it's nothing I would want to change, it's more awareness," she said.
"The only thing I want to come out of it, is to look after these players.
"I know they say the football was heavy back then, but now it's lighter and faster, so who's to say there's not still going to be the same amount of people coming through with dementia."
Dr Stewart's research featured in the 2018 BBC documentary Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me .
In 2019, a study he led found former professional footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of dementia than people of the same age range in the general population.
The study began after claims former West Bromwich Albion striker Jeff Astle died because of repeated head trauma .
There remains, however, no definitive evidence that heading a ball causes dementia.
Football authorities have said more research is needed, with the FA saying it is "committed to doing all it can" to help provide greater understanding of the issue.