Legendary football commentator and CEO/Founder of the Heartbeat of Football charity, Andy Paschalidis, has warned that fatal on-field cardiac arrests have sharply risen since COVID, prompting FIFA – football’s governing body – to take action with a stark warning.
In a wide-ranging discussion on the the Ouzo Talk Podcast, Paschalidis, pointed to the troubling 2021 incident involving Denmark’s Christian Eriksen, where the mid-fielder collapsed in the 42nd minute of a Euro tournament match after suffering cardiac arrest – the star’s heart stopping for some three minutes.
“We’ve seen all of these stories coming from everywhere of cardiac arrests, and the most significant one was Christian Eriksen,” says Paschalidis.
“I’ve been told from very good authority that he had a jab in the days leading up to his cardiac arrest on the field.
“If he did have a jab days prior to his collapse, why would FIFA then tell member Federations; ‘tell your players not to get jabbed during the season’?
“Obviously through COVID, a lot of questions are being asked and FIFA as the governing body are looking at it.
“Our charity was part of a global survey where we provided data for incidents in Australia. This survey went from 2014 to 2018. Conclusions were alarming. I think there were 618 players (that) had died on the pitch around the world – about 180 odd saves. But this is before COVID.
“They’re still trying to collate the information. They’re still trying to work it out because no-one has come out publicly and said; ‘this is why this has happened – this is what we should be doing’.
“FIFA set up their ‘Sudden Cardiac Arrest Registry’ Team. It started with Dr Florian Egger and it escalated to four doctors. Now this is pre-COVID.
“More people play – more incidents will come. We know that, the game is growing. But no-one from the top of the game sat down consciously and looked at it globally.
“All these incidents had to create a reaction at FIFA – you’ve got a duty of care. No-one should die playing the sport they love. We should all go home to our families after we play.”
Heartbeat of Football is focused on reducing the number of cardiac events through proactive testing and the promotion of defibrillators at sporting grounds across Australia.
Paschalidis touched a number of topics during his Ouzo Talk discussion, including remembering Greece’s Euro 2004 victory, the state of Greek and world football, as well as his legendary career in commentary.
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