Retired U.S. women's national team star Brandi Chastain will donate her brain for CTE research, she told John Branch of The New York Times.
Chastain will donate her brain to researchers at Boston University, who have extensively studied concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease.
Chastain, 47, famously scored the winning goal in the 1999 World Cup final in a shootout against China.
“If there’s any information to be gleaned off the study of someone like myself, who has played soccer for 40 years, it feels like my responsibility,” Chastain told the Times. “This would be a more substantial legacy—something that could protect and save some kids, and to enhance and lift up soccer in a way that it hasn’t before. That was the impetus for saying yes. If we can learn something, we should. And I won’t need it.”
No female athletes have been found to have had CTE, though the disease has been found in women who had a history of head trauma. But of the 307 brains examined by Boston University, only seven have been female. Chastain is the second national team member to announce she will donate her brain after Cindy Parlowe Cone.
Several members of the 1999 team have said heading the ball should be banned from youth soccer. Last year, U.S. Soccer banned headers for players under 10 and limited headers for players between 11 and 13.
As of early February, Boston University had found CTE in the brains of 90 of 94 deceased NFL players it had examined. The disease stems from repetitive hits to the head.
– Rohan Nadkarni