FIFA Escapes Court Fight With Soccer Moms Over Head Injuries

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Soccer moms who want rule changes to protect youths from concussions were barred from suing FIFA by a judge who said the claims have nothing to do with the sport’s international governing body.

A group of parents and players sought a ban on heading the ball for those under the age of 14 and restrictions for participants under 17. They also asked for medical personnel at every game and practice, as well as a rule requiring players who suffer concussions to show a doctor’s order before they are allowed back on the field.

FIFA was described in the complaint as exerting “massive worldwide influence and regulation over all aspects of soccer, including in the United States and in California.”

U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton in Oakland, California, noted that the organization doesn’t have an office or organize matches in the state and said parents “have established no connection between any claim asserted in this case and any action by FIFA in California,” according to her ruling Friday.

The judge said the parents can amend their claims and refile them against other parties.

Steve Berman, a lawyer for the parents, didn’t immediately respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment on the ruling.

Injuries, Harm

Hamilton said the complaint was full of “vague and conclusory allegations of ‘injuries’ and ‘harm’ supposedly inflicted by” FIFA and the other soccer associations named as defendants. She said the parents failed to show how they have been injured or in “imminent danger” of harm.

The judge also said the lawsuit didn’t target the one organization that could make changes to the rules of the game -- the International Football Association Board.

“The only entity with the authority to change the Laws of the Game is IFAB, a Swiss organization that is not a party to this action and over which the court would not have personal jurisdiction even were it named as a defendant,” Hamilton wrote.

The case is Mehr v. Federation Internationale de Football Association, 14-cv-3879, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).

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