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Shirt microchips 'could avert health risks'

Potentially serious health issues such as the heart problem which led to Fabrice Muamba's collapse last season could be averted in future by an electronic chip in footballers' shirts.

The International FA Board, which makes football's laws, has been asked by the Scottish FA to consider the technology.

Its use would involve changing a rule prohibiting electronic communication between players on the field and staff in the technical area.

A chip in the collar of a player's shirt could monitor data such as body temperature and heart rate during the course of a match, meaning incidents such as Muamba's collapse on the pitch during Bolton's FA Cup tie at Tottenham being anticipated or even prevented altogether.

SFA chief executive Stewart Regan described the technology's implementation as a "no-brainer" if it had proven medical benefits.

"These chips can monitor heart performance, distance run, changes in a person's body functions, what's operating differently to how it was in the first half," he said.

"We are looking at whether there are medical benefits, such as whether it can warn of problems such as Fabrice Muamba suffered, which would make it a no-brainer for this to come in.

"We are trying to consider whether or not things can make a positive difference in the game rather than [being] just another example of technology being brought in.

"There is a chip in the shirt at the back of the player's neck, and the data is fed back into a laptop.

"There is one school of thought that it's a pure game and there shouldn't be any technology and another that thinks that, if you can make players medically safer, why shouldn't it be considered?"

IFAB, made up of representatives from the football associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as the world governing body FIFA, is set to hold its annual meeting in Edinburgh on March 3.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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