USWNT, Netherlands players have head-to-head collision going for ball, immediately come back out to play

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Lieke Martens (L) of Netherlands and Kelley O'Hara of the USA lay down on the pitch after knocking heads during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands. Both players would return to the field just minutes later. (Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images)
Lieke Martens (L) of Netherlands and Kelley O'Hara of the USA lay down on the pitch after knocking heads during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup France Final match between The United States of America and The Netherlands. Both players would return to the field just minutes later. (Photo by David Aliaga/MB Media/Getty Images)

USWNT player Kelley O’Hara and Lieke Martens of the Netherlands had a scary head-on-head collision in stoppage time of the first half of the Women’s World Cup final.

The players, standing side by side, went to head the same ball. Instead, their heads connected hard and both players went down to the grass, clutching their heads.

Netherlands' forward Lieke Martens (L) and United States' defender Kelley O'Hara vie for the ball during the France 2019 Womens World Cup football final match between USA and the Netherlands, on July 7, 2019, at the Lyon Stadium in Lyon, central-eastern France. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Netherlands' forward Lieke Martens (L) and United States' defender Kelley O'Hara vie for the ball during the France 2019 Womens World Cup football final match between USA and the Netherlands, on July 7, 2019, at the Lyon Stadium in Lyon, central-eastern France. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Both players were down for a few minutes before they sat up and eventually walked off the field. While it didn’t appear that either lost consciousness, it was still a scary few minutes.

O’Hara and Martens were required to leave the game, but both reentered literal minutes after the collision, before the end of stoppage time. O’Hara was taken out of the game and replaced by Ali Krieger in the second half.

That O’Hara was allowed to reenter the game before the end of the first half but needed to be taken out in the second half highlights the inconsistency in how soccer’s concussion protocol is applied, and how some still don’t take it seriously. If O’Hara’s head injury was severe enough that she couldn’t play the second half, she shouldn’t have been able to come back for even a second of the first half.

With soccer on display on its biggest stage and everyone watching, it’s never been more important — for fans and players alike — that the the players’ health be the first priority for everyone.

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