Dutch footballer contracted dementia from football

Source: Wikipedia

A post-mortem in the Netherlands has for the first time provided proof that football had contributed to the Dutch footballer’s onset of dementia, with brain damage from the game being evident.

The NRC reports that Wout Holverda, a player for Sparta Rotterdam, developed serious dementia because of his profession and that heading the ball probably played a large part in this.

Brain specialists at Amsterdam UMC who helped to carry out the post-mortem suggested that he sustained brain damage that could only have been caused by playing football.

Jort Vijverberg, a Neurologist, told the NRC that the findings of the study were “unique” and suggested that there should be more research done with other football players.

He said: “We could see in his brain damage from repeated blows to the head.

“In this case, Wout Holverda’s football career is the reason for his illness. We hope that more footballers will donate their brains for research after their deaths because only in this way can we answer important questions about the safety of heading and of football.”

According to the report Holverda’s brain showed signs of CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This is something common in former American National Football League players, and also linked with contact sports like boxing.

As a result in the USA, children under 10 are banned from heading footballs and the UK has stopped children under 12 from heading footballs during training, following research showing possible links with dementia.

The Dutch football association KNVB has not followed the example of the US and the UK, although several years ago it announced research into heading and youth football.

Holverda played professionally for Sparta Rotterdam between 1978 and 1984, but died last December after suffering from serious dementia for years.

His son Robin Holverda told NRC: “Now we know that our dad died of the sport that he loved above everything. That is tough, but we are happy that this is now clear. I hope that this study means that at the end of the day we know more about the dangers of heading the ball.”

The UMC confirmed the findings that the Dutch footballer contracted dementia from football to DutchNews.nl but said they would not be submitted for scientific publication because they only concerned one person so far.

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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]