x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Football's tragic roll-call of heart attack deaths

In each case the finger of blame has been pointed firmly at hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - the heart condition for which every child in Dubai will now be screened.

Salem Saad, centre, suffered a heart attack while training with his club, Al Nasr, in November 2009, and died in hospital.
Salem Saad, centre, suffered a heart attack while training with his club, Al Nasr, in November 2009, and died in hospital.

No one who saw it will forget it. During an FA Cup tie in March, in front of 36,000 spectators and millions of TV viewers, Fabrice Muamba slumped to the White Hart Lane pitch, his body motionless.

The player's heart stopped for 78 minutes. He was treated in hospital and, although forced to quit the sport, survived the heart attack.

Others have not. The roll-call is an awful one: Marc-Vivien Foe of Manchester City died in Lyon playing for Cameroon in 2003; Phil O'Donnell of Motherwell in Scotland died from a heart attack on the pitch in 2009; Antonio Puerta of Sevilla died after suffering a series of cardiac arrests during a match in 2007; Daniel Jarque of the Spanish club Espanyol died from a heart attack in Italy in 2009. And the one that changed UAE football for ever. Salem Saad suffered a heart attack while training with his club, Al Nasr, in November 2009, and died in hospital. The tragedy led to the formation of a Sports Medicine Committee to improve medical care at every club and every tournament.

In each case the finger of blame has been pointed firmly at hypertrophic cardiomyopathy - the heart condition for which every child in Dubai will now be screened. There can be no doubt that lives will be saved.

* The National staff