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FIFA wants health checks for all top level athletes

FIFA wants health checks for all top level athletes

FIFA wants top-level athletes, including soccer players, to undergo regular health assessments in a bid to reduce deaths due to cardiac arrest.
The call came two days after Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta died following his collapse on the field during a Spanish league match against Getafe on Saturday.
FIFA chief medical officer Jiri Dvorak said Thursday that extensive heart tests for players and questions about their family's medical history could help identify the most common causes of cardiac arrest. FIFA implemented such a policy for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and now wants it extended to all leagues and other competitions.
"The incidence of soccer deaths is not any higher than other sports. But football is the biggest sport in the world," Dvorak said. "There are more people playing and watching football than, say, windsurfing."
Dvorak said there were an estimated 1,000 cardiac deaths every year among athletes _ recreational and professional _ around the world.
"Most are dying from undiagnosed, undiscovered congenital heart disease," Dvorak said. "Heart disease is the No. 1 killer in society. It's very common."
Dvorak pointed out that recent deaths of soccer players occurred in completely different parts of the world.
Puerta died from a weakness of the right ventricle. He lost consciousness and fell near his own goal Saturday in the 31st minute, but was able to walk off minutes later after being treated by team doctors. But he had a heart attack in the locker room, and at least one more in the emergency room of the Seville hospital where he was taken.
Hapoel Beersheba striker Chaswe Nsofwa died in Israel on Wednesday minutes after collapsing during a practice session. The former Zambia international collapsed for unknown reasons but temperatures on the field approached 40 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) with low humidity.
About a week ago, 16-year-old Anton Reid of English League One team Walsall died after collapsing on the field.
"It could be simply coincidence," Dvorak said. "There is no indication that there is some kind of reason for these deaths."
FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said the on-field collapse and subsequent death of Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe at the 2003 Confederations Cup in France prompted FIFA to demand not only a general medical checkup but also thorough cardiovascular tests _ including electro- and echocardiograms from all teams _ ahead of the World Cup in Germany.
Other soccer players who have died after collapsing on the field include Benfica's Miklos Feher in 2004. The same year, Sao Caetano defender Serginho died after collapsing during a Brazilian league match.
Dvorak said he had no data on the incidence of soccer deaths compared to other sports.
Frederick Mueller, director of the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research in North Carolina, estimated there were at least 10 cardiac-related deaths among high school and college athletes each year across the United States. But Mueller said he didn't think the incidence was higher than for "so-called regular people" unaware they had a heart condition.
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Associated Press writer Frank Jordans contributed to this story.


Updated : 2020-11-30 23:12 GMT+08:00