All weekend football in Italy was called off yesterday following the death of Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, a player whose own private life had been plagued by a series of tragedies.
The 25-year-old, on loan from Serie A side Udinese, collapsed on the pitch during a second division game at Pescara and was later pronounced dead in hospital.
It continued a tragic family history that saw Morosini’s parents die while he was a teenager, after which his disabled brother also committed suicide. He is survived by an older sister, who is disabled.
Morosini’s death comes just under a month after Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during his side’s FA Cup quarter-final match with Tottenham, prompting calls for more stringent medical checks on footballers.
The Italian Football Federation general manager Antonello Valentini responded to yesterday’s tragedy by suspending all remaining weekend football, starting with the Serie A match between Milan and Genoa.
Fans already at the San Siro stadium responded to that announcement largely with applause, although some jeered.
Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni Petrucci later invited all Italian sports federations to observe a minute’s silence in memory of Morosini.
Morosini suffered a heart attack during the first half of the match. He collapsed suddenly and was treated on the pitch before being taken away by ambulance to the Civile Santo Spirito hospital in Pescara.
But the former Italy under-21 international was later pronounced dead.
Pescara’s masseur Claudio D’Arcangelo said he knew immediately something was wrong.
“I darted onto the pitch because I understood straightaway that it was a serious situation,” he said.
“I didn’t even wait for the referee’s permission. I gave him heart-massage straightaway and for a moment I felt he was coming back but there was nothing we could do.”
There was a delay as the ambulance was initially prevented from entering the stadium due to a police car blocking an exit.
Local authorities opened an investigation into the incident but a heart specialist said the delay made no difference.
“A minute more or less in the ambulance would not have done anything,” cardiologist Dr Paloscia told ANSA.
“His heart had stopped and never started beating again. We tried to reanimate him for an hour and a half but it was all to no avail.”
Italian media were alerted to Morosini’s death initially by an “explosion of shouts and tears” from his team-mates who had gone to the hospital, ANSA said.
Police started to usher the press away but the official confirmation followed shortly afterwards.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was among those to pay tribute to Morosini.
“The tragedy that has affected everyone that loved him has brought great pain to everyone who loves football,” he said on his Twitter page.
Cittadella 1 - Ascoli 3
Grosseto 1 - Nocerina 2
Gubbio 1 - Vicenza 1
Modena 2 - Varese 2
Pescara 0 - Livorno 2 (match suspended on 31 minutes)
Reggina 1 - Crotone 1
Sampdoria 2 - Brescia 0
Verona 4 - Bari 1
Torino, Verona 66; Sassuolo 64; Pescara 62; Padova, Varese 56; Sampdoria 54; Brescia 53; Juve Stabia 49; Reggina 48; Bari 44; Grosseto 43; Modena 42; Cittadella 41; Crotone 40; Livorno 38; Ascoli 35; Empoli 34; Vicenza 33; Nocerina 31; Gubbio 28; AlbinoLeffe 25.