Three years ago to the day today, on 5 June 2017 on a football pitch in Beijing, China, Ivory Coast footballer Cheick Tiote suffered a cardiac arrest during training, slumped, and died. His death was met with shock and awe, and many paid tributes to the former Newcastle United player, part of the 2015 Ivory Coast team that won the Africa Cup of Nations of that year.
His was not the first. Many have done so before him, suffering the same fate. A few survivors along the way, but too many tragic stories.
We set up a foundation – the Football Hearts Foundation – that year, designed to look into causes as well as find a possible way of reducing, if not totally stopping this really sad phenomenon in our beautiful game.
Is there really something to it? Is there a connection to cardiac arrests from high intensity sports? Why do the medics always advise that we stay fit so that our hearts can pump well and remains active? What happened to the theory that heart condition can be enhanced by physical fitness?
Are the players short on something? Can there be underlying heart defects in some of these players that have not been spotted that could have stopped them dying when they did? What about the lifestyle choices our players have made along the way?
It is a lot….and the Football Hearts Foundation wanted, and still wants to unravel and make a positive contribution to our players’ longevity – both current and past.
We are still going on…but the football politicians who could actually do more, pay lip service to this phenomenon especially after a sad death, and then the whole thing dies out after a few months, only to resurface when someone else dies.
Please join us in ensuring that the memories of Tiote, of Marc-Vivien Foe, of Ugo Ehiogu, of Sam Okwaraji…and many others who have fallen are preserved and they will not have died in vain.
Continue to rest peacefully, Cheick….good guy, great player.
Please hashtag #FootballHearts on all your social media platforms to register support.