3-minute concussion breaks in European matches

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Referees have been given the power to stop matches in European competitions for three minutes to fully assess head injuries.

The proposal by FIFA medical committee chairman Michel D'Hooghe in response to concerns about the treatment of concussions in high-profile matches, was approved by the UEFA executive committee on Thursday.

"In the event of a suspected concussion, the referee will stop the game for up to three minutes, to allow the injured player to be assessed by the team doctor," UEFA General Secretary Gianni Infantino said. "A player will only be allowed to continue playing on specific confirmation by the team doctor to the referee of the player's fitness to do so."

Football officials have been under pressure to better protect players after there were five concussion cases at the World Cup in Brazil, including several where the player tried to stay on the field. A lawsuit is also being brought in the U.S. chiding FIFA's guidelines for players who receive serious head injuries.

D'Hooghe said last week that a concussion case occurs on average once in every 20 games.

Here are the other issues discussed at UEFA's executive committee meeting on Thursday.

2016 STADIUMS CHOSEN: The San Siro will host the Champions League final on May 28, 2016, with European football's showpiece match returning to Milan for the first time in 15 years.

St. Jakob-Park in the Swiss city of Basel was selected to stage the Europa League final on May 18, 20016. The Super Cup on Aug. 9 2016 will between the winners of the two UEFA club competitions will be in Norway for the first time at Lerkendal Stadion in Trondheim.

RUSSIA-UKRAINE: Football leaders from Russian and Ukraine remain at loggerheads over the fate of Crimean clubs. The Black Sea peninsula was annexed from Ukraine by Russia in March, prompting condemnation from Western political leaders. Ukrainian federation president Anatoliy Konkov, who didn't sanction the Crimean clubs moving to the Russian league, called on FIFA on Thursday to suspend Russia from world football, decrying the country's "howling infringement."

But after Russian and Ukrainian football officials met at UEFA on Thursday, Infantino said "there is optimism that a solution can be found which allows football to be played in Crimea" that complies with the rules. "It was a constructive and ordered discussion with goodwill shown by both sides. As a result, a working group will be established and will report in approximately one month."

UEFA has already decided not to recognize the results by Crimean clubs playing in domestic competitions.

MATCHES IN ISRAEL: UEFA has lifted the ban on Israeli teams playing European matches at home that was imposed during the recent Israel-Hamas conflict around Gaza, which ended three weeks ago. The decision should allow Israel to host its next 2016 European Championship qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina on home soil on Nov. 16 after being forced to postpone the match against Belgium this month. Israel has no teams left in European club competitions this season.

WINDFALL FROM FINES: UEFA confirmed that fines collected from Financial Fair Play penalties will be distributed among other clubs in Europe. Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Zenit St. Petersburg, who were among nine clubs sanctioned for overspending on player transfers and wages, paid almost all of the 24 million euros ($31 million) withheld from Champions League prize money last season.

LOOKING AHEAD: The executive committee on Friday will pick the 13 cities to host matches in the continent-wide European Championship in 2020. Wembley Stadium in London is the favorite to be awarded the semifinals and final.

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