BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Crashing face-first into the ground, France defender Benjamin Pavard said he felt like a boxer knocked out on the canvas.
Pavard slammed into the turf in the 59th minute of France’s 1-0 victory over Germany on Tuesday at the European Championship following a challenge from opposing midfielder Robin Gosens.
“I was a bit KO’d for about 10-15 seconds,” Pavard told broadcaster beIN Sports after the game. “After that I felt better.”
UEFA and players’ union FIFPRO have questioned why France’s medical staff let Pavard continue playing in the match in Munich.
Teams doctors and coaches from all 24 teams at Euro 2020 signed up to UEFA’s Concussion Charter before the tournament. It states that “if a player of our team is suspected of having suffered a concussion, he will be immediately removed from the pitch, whether in training or match play.”
FIFPRO said it was in touch with UEFA to find out why the Concussion Charter was not applied and Pavard was not removed from the match.
Pavard was about to head the ball away from the goalmouth when Gosens jumped into the air and his knee caught the Frenchman around the neck. It sent the off-balance Pavard tumbling forward and he hit the ground face-first, with his right arm only slightly breaking his fall.
The decision for Pavard to continue rested with him and the team’s doctor.
UEFA said its medical people are in contact with the French soccer federation to ascertain if he is able to train or play under protocol rules.
The federations’s medical director, Emmanuel Orhant, is also a member of the UEFA medical committee.
Soccer’s rule-making panel, known as IFAB, is monitoring early trials with temporary substitutes for players who need to have a suspected head injury assessed, but they are not being used at Euro 2020.
The France team said Pavard had not lost consciousness at any point and was able to continue playing.
Pavard had lunch with his teammates as planned on Wednesday and took part in the afternoon training session. The French national team posted a photo on Twitter of him walking alongside teammate Paul Pogba in their training gear.
“It’s true that I took a very heavy blow, I didn’t see it coming,” Pavard said Wednesday. “But everything is fine and I have recovered well. I feel very well.”
A similar incident happened in a match between West Germany and France in the 1982 World Cup semifinals.
Germany goalkeeper Harald Schumacher rushed off his line and jumped into France defender Patrick Battiston just after he had taken a shot, catching him full in the face with his knee and sending him falling backward onto the ground.
Battiston received oxygen as he was carried off the field unconscious in Seville as distressed teammate Michel Platini, whose pass Battiston had latched onto, held his hand. Battiston fell into a coma but later recovered.
After Tuesday’s match in Munich, Pavard was lucid enough to talk in detail about the performance.
“We came across a very good Germany team who had more possession. We really played well, whether in attack or defense, and we stuck together when things were tough,” the 25-year-old Pavard said. “We coped well when they were starting to get on top, and they didn’t get many shots on target.”
Other than Pavard’s worrying fall, France has had no other injuries to contend with. The defending World Cup champions next face Hungary in Budapest on Saturday.
“We’re in good shape physically and I think we’re going to keep getting better in the competition,” Pavard said. “It’s very encouraging for what’s ahead.”
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