FIFA extends research into cardiac arrest cases
FIFA is extending research into cardiac arrest cases involving
footballers to learn about the condition which caused Bolton
midfielder Fabrice Muamba to collapse during a match.
FIFA’s chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak, said Monday that the
project will be advanced at FIFA’s medical conference scheduled for
May 23-24 in Budapest, Hungary.
”We have invited all national-team doctors to establish a
worldwide database for cases of sudden cardiac arrest,” Dvorak
told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. ”This will
lead to analysis of the risk factors.”
Muamba’s condition is serious but stable in a London hospital,
nine days after he collapsed during the first half of an FA Cup
match at Tottenham’s White Hart Lane stadium.
The 23-year-old Muamba’s recovery has been followed avidly
across the world, but Dvorak hopes FIFA’s new project will provide
medical researchers with important information about lower-profile
”Sometimes we only get (details of) individual cases through
the media. When we get the files we can analyze them,” he
The FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Center (F-MARC) also
helped complete a recent study of electrocardiogram (ECG) testing
in African players. Muamba was born in Zaire.
Dvorak said the study of 230 healthy players in Gabon was needed
because most data from ECG testing, which looks for electric faults
of the heart, is related to people of Caucasian ethnicity.
The variation in data from players of different ethnic
backgrounds was discussed at the inaugural FIFA medical conference
held October 2009 in Zurich.
FIFA also contributed to a summit of cardiologists in Seattle
last month, which was hosted by the American Medical Society for
The two-day session focused on how to better interpret readings
of ECGs performed on athletes, Dvorak said.
”Cardiologists are constantly learning,” the Swiss professor
said. ”We are also developing a comprehensive e-learning course
available to team physicians.”
Dvorak pointed to the 2003 death of Marc-Vivien Foe, who
collapsed while playing for Cameroon against Colombia in a
Confederations Cup match in France as a turning point in football’s
awareness of potential heart problems.
”It was the imperative wake-up call that we have to deal with
this situation and do everything to mitigate the risk factor,” he
FIFA began insisting on cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory
tests for all World Cup players before the 2006 tournament in
Mandatory testing was introduced ahead of the 2007 Women’s World
Cup, and now applies to all FIFA age-group tournaments for men and
Dvorak said a defibrillator, which was used on Muamba as he lay
on the field, is required at all FIFA-sanctioned matches and should
be available at all World Cup qualifying matches.
Each of FIFA’s 208 national members receives funding for medical
projects as part of its $250,000 annual FIFA grant, Dvorak
FIFA’s medical adviser said he had spoken with Bolton officials
throughout Muamba’s ordeal.
”From the very first moment, we are in contact,” Dvorak said.
”We wish him all the best, and it’s fantastic that he is