First time CTE was diagnosed in a major league soccer player

BOSTON — Researchers have diagnosed chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a Major League Soccer player for the first time, saying former Sporting Kansas City defender Scott Vermillion has a degenerative brain disease.

The Boston University CTE Center says Vermillion, who died of an accidental drug overdose in December 2020 at age 44, had CTE. While it is not possible to connect any individual case to a single cause, the disease is associated with repeated blows to the head.

CTEs have been found in over 100 former NFL players as well as semi-pro and high school football players. Vermillion is the first from the MLS.

“Mr. Vermillion has shown us that football players are at risk for CTE,” said Dr. Ann McKee, director of the BU CTE Center. “We need to do our best to identify those players. suffering and provide them with compassionate care and appropriate medical support.”

Vermillion started playing football at the age of 5 and continued for 22 years, culminating in 4 MLS seasons for DC United, Colorado Rapids and Sporting KC. He also played for the United States at the 1993 World Youth Championship and made several appearances for the U20 team in 1996.

After retiring in 2001 with an ankle injury, his family said, he became depressed and had problems controlling impulses and aggression. He eventually lost his memory and developed a substance abuse problem.

All are associated with CTE, which is associated with concussions or concussion blows in athletes, veterans, and others with repetitive head trauma.

“This disease destroys families, and not just football families,” said Vermillion’s father, Dave Vermillion. “We hope this will be a wake-up call for the football community to support former players and help them get the help they need, so some good can come from this tragedy. “

The MLS Players’ Association called on the federation to break with the sport’s international governing bodies and adopt a rule extending substitution rights to allow players with concussions.

“We must not sit back and wait for them to do the right thing. The MLS should unilaterally apply the full concussion substitution rule immediately,” the union said in a statement. “Current alternate rules do not give medical professionals enough time to accurately diagnose potential concussions without putting the team at a significant competitive disadvantage.”

The Concussion Legacy Foundation has called for rules that restrict soccer and promote soccer for children over 14, says CLF co-founder Chris Nowinski, who says dementia is linked to Professional football players in the UK travel often.

Nowinski said: “It is time for the global football community to have a real conversation about aiming, especially in youth games. “We urgently need to investigate how far this crisis is spreading to amateur football and immediately implement reforms to prevent CTE in the next generation.”

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