FIFA to fund heart disorder research in wake of Muamba's shock collapse
15:46 GMT, 26 March 2012
FIFA is extending research into heart attack cases involving footballers to learn about the condition which caused Fabrice Muamba's shocking collapse.
The world governing body's chief medical officer, Jiri Dvorak has revealed that the project will be advanced at FIFA's medical conference scheduled for May 23-24 in Budapest, Hungary.
Dvorak said: 'We have invited all national-team doctors to establish a worldwide database for cases of sudden cardiac arrest. This will lead to analysis of the risk factors.'
Hope: Muamba's condition is improving but he remains in intensive care
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.
Muamba, 23, recovery has been followed across the world, but Dvorak hopes FIFA's new project will provide medical researchers with important information about lower-profile cases.
'Sometimes we only get (details of) individual cases through the media. When we get the files we can analyze them,' he said.
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 Sports Medicine.
Fan's tribute: Muamba has received support form all corners of the football world, starting with his own supporters at Bolton
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 said.
FIFA began insisting on cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory tests for all World Cup players before the 2006 tournament in Germany.
Mandatory testing was introduced ahead of the 2007 Women's World Cup, and now applies to all FIFA age-group tournaments for men and women.
Quick reactions: The treatment Muamba received on the pitch at Tottenham helped save his life
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 (157,000) annual FIFA grant, Dvorak said.
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 recovering.'