Ex Wales players' families among brain injury case claimants

The families of late Wales internationals Keith Pontin and Alan Jarvis are among those taking legal action against the Football Association of Wales [FAW] and other football authorities over brain injuries allegedly suffered during their careers.

Pontin, a former Cardiff City defender who played twice for Wales, died at the age of 64 in 2020, a year after Jarvis - who was 76 and had spent most of his career at Hull City and earned three Wales caps.

The families have joined representatives of other ex players, including Joe Kinnear - the late former Tottenham defender and Wimbledon manager - in accusing the IFAB, the Football Association, the English Football League as well as the FAW of failing to take reasonable action to protect players from permanent damage caused repeated concussive blows.

Pontin, a former central defender, made more than 200 league appearances and also played for Merthyr Tydfil and Barry Town.

In 2022, an inquest found that he had died of dementia due to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy [CTE], a progressive brain condition believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.

Jarvis, who played over 150 league games for Hull City, was diagnosed with an unknown form of dementia and spent his later years in a care home in North Wales.

His family donated his brain to medical research being undertaken at the University of Glasgow.

Coroners concluded that he died from Alzheimer’s “caused by his occupation.”

Dr William Stuart, a consultant neuropathologist who studied Mr Jarvis' brain, said mortality with Alzheimer's disease was five times higher in former professional footballers than the general population.

In March, the BBC revealed that lawyers were arguing that minutes of a 1983 FA meeting “indicate [it] was always fully aware of the dangers of concussion in football.”

The group allege that the organisation 'failed to take action to reduce the risk of players to the lowest reasonable level’ as stated in ‘particulars of claim’ in the High Court action and seen by the BBC.

The claimants are said to have suffered "permanent long-term neurological injuries" as a result.

In response, the FA said it was "not able to comment on ongoing legal proceedings" but that "we continue to take a leading role in reviewing and improving the safety of our game".

The FAW said in a statement that it "is engaged in the litigation process and are unable to comment on any individual case. We take the welfare of players extremely seriously and player safety is, and always has been, of paramount importance to us."

Before a case management hearing earlier this week, solicitors for the players submitted more than 8,000 pages of medical records and documents related to the case.

Richard Boardman, who is representing the 35 former footballers in the ongoing litigation said:

"Today's hearing is the latest milestone in our campaign to seek justice for those who were not protected by the football governing bodies from sustaining brain damage.

"The sheer scale of the problem is illustrated by the fact that we have filed more than 8,000 pages of medical records and legal documents for the first 17 football claimants alone.

"The willingness of active footballers to speak out - as demonstrated by Manchester United centre back Raphael Varane just last month – will only help to bring further awareness to this life-changing issue.”