A Tale of Two Football Leagues
Image Credit: Matthew Chadwick

A Tale of Two Football Leagues


Just days after millions around the world saw, and then many more read about, the collapse of Fabrice Muamba of English Premier League team Bolton Wanderers during a football match, something similar was making the news in India.

Sadly, there was a huge difference between the two cases, as D. Venkatesh died while playing for Bangalore Mars in the city’s Football District League.

Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on March 17, just before half-time in an FA Cup quarter-final clash between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur. The player, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, received immediate medical attention, and though his condition is still serious, he’s said to be improving.

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In terms of football, there is of course a huge difference between a game involving two English Premier League teams and one involving a district match in Bangalore on March 21. But on this occasion, there was also a huge difference in the speed of the response.
Just like Muamba, Venkatesh is thought to have gone into cardiac arrest at the end of the game, despite only coming on as substitute with 17 minutes remaining. Muamba was treated for six minutes on the pitch and then taken to a waiting ambulance before being transported to hospital. Venkatesh was taken to hospital in an auto-rickshaw.

According to Dr. Ajith Benedict Royan of Hosmat Hospital, he could have been saved with quicker and better attention.
“Maybe if he had been given oxygen or proper medical care at the time of the incident, he could have stood a chance,” the Times of India quoted Royan as saying.

Karnataka Football Association (KFA) president A. R. Khaleel even told football site Goal.com that it was the fault of the player’s father.    
“I was told that the boy (Venkatesh) vomited on the bench and the coach didn’t want to send him on ground. But one of the relatives, either his uncle or dad, from the stands forced the coach to play him,” claimed Khaleel. “A soon as the player was on field he collapsed. He was attended to by a doctor and a physiotherapist. But since the stadium work is going on, the ambulance can’t come to the stadium."

The player’s father denies the claim.

“These are baseless claims. He was physically fit. He bent over and spat and the officials said he had vomited. Venkatesh didn’t suffer from any health disorders. The association might claim that Venkatesh has some ailment but I am his father and I know my son well.”
Regardless of who was responsible for him playing, it appears to have been the disorganization surrounding limited ambulance access more than anything that claimed the young player’s life.

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