According to the New York Times and other major news outlets, the United States Soccer Federation has just announced some new safety guidelines for youth soccer players. The new guidelines do not allow players under the age of 10 to “head” the ball & players age 11 to 13 will reduce “heading” in practices. The new regulations are mandatory for US Soccer Youth National Teams & Academies, however they cannot make the guidelines mandatory for soccer associations that are not controlled by the US Soccer Federation. This changes will take place in January of 2016.
The decision was in response to a law suit that charged that FIFA, US Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization did not properly treat or monitor head injuries. The lawsuit was filed by a group of parents and players in California. No financial damages were filed in the case but the US Soccer Federation was required to amend safety practices in order to reduce concussions in younger players. There will be more changes to come in the future such as policies that will allow substitutions for players that are suspected of having concussions so that the player can be properly examined. Specifics in the these rule changes have not been released yet however.