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FIFPro concerned about the death of Ekeng

SPORTS By Reuters | May 8th 2016 | 2 min read
Patrick Ekeng

World soccer players' union FIFPro has raised concerns about the level of first-aid treatment for footballers in Romania following the death of Dinamo Bucharest and Cameroon midfielder Patrick Ekeng on Friday.

The 26-year-old collapsed on the field after suffering a suspected heart attack shortly after coming on as a 62nd-minute substitute during a league match against Viitorul Constanta and was pronounced dead two hours after the incident.

"While it is too early to draw conclusions from this tragic accident, as police continue to investigate the circumstances, it is clear that some Romanian clubs have a history of skimping on medical facilities," FIFPro said in a statement.

In 2012, FIFPro's Romanian member AFAN asked the domestic federation to make it compulsory for clubs to have fully-equipped ambulances at all official and friendly matches.

The AFAN demand came after Nigerian player Henry Chinonso Ihelewere died at the age of 21 after suffering a cardiac arrest during a friendly match in August 2012.

"It would have cost as little as 400 euros ($456.12) per club per match to have state-of-the-art equipment available but the plan was not adopted," AFAN president Emilian Hulubei said in a statement issued by the FIFPro.

"Instead, clubs in the top three divisions have been allowed to have ambulances on standby with minimal equipment."

Hulubei said he understood Ekeng had had the required health checks in Bucharest during his time playing in the Black Sea state but claimed there was evidence that clubs from outside the capital were not doing so to save money.

"Footballers in Romania are a long way from being treated the way normal workers should be," Hulubei said.

Prosecutors in Bucharest announced on Saturday they had opened an enquiry into Ekeng's death, amid criticism of the treatment he received.

"After local authorities complete their investigation, we expect answers as to whether or not this tragedy could have been avoided," FIFPro General Secretary Theo van Seggelen said.

An autopsy will be performed on Monday with Romania's interior ministry also announcing that a probe would be carried out into the private ambulance company which transported the player to hospital, to determine if equipment complied with norms and staff were sufficiently qualified.

The Romanian football federation postponed all matches in the top three divisions, the junior championship, futsal (indoor football) and women's games that were scheduled to take place between May 7 and 9 were postponed.

The domestic Cup final between Dinamo and CFR Cluj, which was due to be played on Tuesday, was also postponed until May 17.

The 18-times Romanian champions Dinamo announced they will retire the number 14 shirt as a mark of respect to Ekeng.


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