The Football Association [The FA] has been granted approval from The International Football Association Board [IFAB] to introduce a new trial to remove deliberate heading in football matches across U12 level and below in England from the start of the 2022/23 season.
The FA will now be inviting leagues and competitions across the country to take part in the trial that will run for the duration of the 2022/23 season. The trial will be coordinated with the County FA network, Leagues, Clubs and Schools throughout the country.
Should the trial be a success, the aim is to then remove deliberate heading from all football matches at U12 level and below from the 2023/24 season. This step will bring matches across these age groups in line with The FA’s current heading guidance for training, which already recommends that heading is eliminated or restricted at this level.
The FA made a formal application to The IFAB to trial a ban on deliberate heading in matches across U12 level and below following the successful introduction of its heading guidance for training ahead of the 2021/22 season.
The guidance for training in English football was established in partnership with key stakeholders across the grassroots and professional game following consultation with coaches and medical experts in football. The aim was to help mitigate against any potential risks that may be linked to heading the ball, including injuries from head to head, elbow to head, or head to ground contact, and it represents a cautious approach to playing and enjoying football whilst ongoing research continues in this area.
If the trial is successful, The FA will apply to IFAB for a Law change for all U12 matches and below from the start of the 2023/24 season. The FA will continue to explore further ideas, in consultation with stakeholders in the game, to reduce heading in youth football without fundamentally changing the fabric of the game.
The FA will continue to work with The IFAB on the next steps and delivery of the new trial to remove deliberate heading across U12 level and below from the start of the 2022/23 season, and further information will be announced in due course.