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The Major League Soccer Players Association criticized FIFA and IFAB for rejecting a proposal to allow a trial of temporary concussion substitutes beginning with the 2023 MLS season. The MLSPA also criticized MLS for going along with FIFA and IFAB's decision.

"IFA and IFAB's shortsighted, misguided decision demonstrates once again their failure to prioritize player health and safety in our sport," reads the MLSPA's statement released on Feb. 24. "Their refusal to act provides yet another example of global soccer's broken governance structure." 

The MLSPA wrote that medical professionals "have made clear, with near unanimity" that the rules currently mandated at the highest level of the sport don't provide enough time for players to be properly assessed for potential concussions. 

MLS commissioner Don Garber told Maurice Edu on Wednesday that when it comes to running a league, the health and safety of the players are the "biggest priority."

"We believe the test of a concussion substitute rule is just smart. By the way, testing things is smart. Why would anybody not want to test something and see if it works? If it doesn't work, you don't do it," Garber said. "But we constantly are trying to innovate with things on the field. We're an advocate for the temporary concussion substitute rule." 

However, the commissioner said it was difficult for MLS to act without approval.

"I get it; the global game has to have the same rules, and it's not as easy for us just to pass those rules on our own," Garber said. "We've offered to do it. We'll be the first league to say we'll do it, like we tested VAR. We were the first league to do that, and now that's obviously embraced throughout the sporting world. But I'm optimistic."

In its statement, the MLSPA said MLS showed a "lack of courage" on the concussion issue, adding that "despite its ability and previously stated desire to do so, MLS has made the decision to follow rather than lead." 

The 2023 MLS season is set to kick off on Saturday, Feb. 25.