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Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha (back of picture) was sent off after his challenge on Senegal’s Sadio Mané resulted in a ‘sickening’ clash of heads. Show caption Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha (back of picture) was sent off after his challenge on Senegal’s Sadio Mané resulted in a ‘sickening’ clash of heads. Photograph: BackpagePix/Shutterstock
Senegal football team
  • Headway insists player needed substituting in Afcon match
  • Charity says head impact should rule player out of quarter-final

Fifa and the Confederation of African Football face a test of leadership over whether Sadio Mané plays in Senegal’s Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final, according to the brain injury charity Headway.

The Liverpool forward was taken to hospital with a suspected concussion after clashing heads with Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha during Senegal’s last-16 win in the Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.

Vozinha was sent off for the 53rd-minute foul and received immediate treatment for his head injury. Mané played on after treatment, however, and scored the opening goal of Senegal’s 2-0 win in the 63rd minute. Following a lengthy VAR review of the goal, the 29-year-old dropped to the pitch holding his head and was eventually helped off and substituted in the 70th minute.

Mané later posted a picture on social media of himself and Vozinha in hospital with the caption: “Senegal vs Cape Verde in the pitch, in the hospital. Everything is fine, thank you all for the messages.” He should now undergo a graduated return to play, placing his availability for Sunday’s quarter-final against Mali or Equatorial Guinea in doubt. Headway believe it would demonstrate the weakness of football’s protocols on concussion should the Liverpool striker feature.

Luke Griggs, the charity’s deputy chief executive, said: “This was a sickening collision that clearly left both players in enough distress for a concussion to have surely been considered a possibility at the very least. At that point, the principle of ‘If in doubt, sit it out’ should have resulted in Mané being substituted without another ball being kicked.

“The image of the player collapsing on the ground and having to be helped from the pitch after scoring his goal should tell you everything you need to know about the impact and the effect it had had on his brain. Yet again, the desire to win is seen as being worth serious risks to players’ health. It is simply shocking that this continues to happen.

“This is now a real test of leadership for the Confederation of African Football and world governing body Fifa – particularly if Senegal declare Mané fit for Sunday’s quarter-final. If football wants to be taken seriously when it comes to concussion, it simply must take action to enforce and strengthen its protocols.”

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