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Doha: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)’s commitment to strengthen the sports science and medicine landscape in the continent was further strengthened as the AFC Medical Committee concluded its second meeting yesterday in Doha, Qatar.

The Committee Chairman, Dato’ Dr. Gurcharan Singh (Malaysia), welcomed Deputy Chairman Dr. Michiko Dohi (Japan) and Members Dr. Zohreh Haratian (Iran), Dr. Yahya Al Maharmeh (Jordan), Dr. Saleh Mohammed Al Harthi (Saudi Arabia), Dr. Gamachchige Ekanayake (Sri Lanka), Dr. Mohammed Jehad Haj Ebrahim (Syria), Dr. Paisal Chantarapitak (Thailand) and Dr. Nguyen Van Phu (Vietnam).

In his welcome address, Chairman, Dato’ Dr. Gurcharan Singh underlined the importance of the Committee’s work in the coming years as underlined by the AFC’s vision and mission to ensure Asia succeeds on the world stage.

Members commenced the meeting with an in-depth discussion on the need to establish a framework for the AFC to adopt and implement an overarching policy to ensure the safety of players and fans during extreme air pollution conditions, which has affected several parts of Asia, particularly in the Southeast Asian region, in recent times. The Committee also agreed in principle to cease all football matches at the 200 Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) level, which is categorised as dangerous to health, with the possibility of matches being postponed, should the air-quality continue to deteriorate.

With the growing demands on players to perform at their optimum level, members examined the AFC’s policy and protocol on head concussions. Under the new proposal, officials will be empowered to stop play for three minutes, allowing the relevant team doctor to complete an on-pitch assessment. The referee will only allow the injured party back to the field-of-play once the final authorisation has been given by the team doctor.

Members also agreed to collaborate and support Aspetar to conduct a pilot injury study during the AFC Champions League from the quarter-finals of this year’s competition.

In his closing remarks, Chairman Dato’ Dr. Gurcharan Singh praised the impact of the various sports science and medicine projects in recent months, which included the first AFC Sports Physiotherapy Course currently taking place in Doha. Looking ahead, he added that the AFC will continue to enhance the capabilities of health and science practitioners as it prepares for a vibrant and busy competitions calendar in the second half of this year.