Friend of Foe?

Marc-Vivien Foe died this week. It’s a tragedy and while no one would want to diminish the loss of anyone’s friends or relatives the details of Foe’s death seem to make that tragedy worse.

Foe, a 28 year old physically fit man, should not drop dead on a football field. His wife Marie-Louise Foe said Marc-Vivien had been struggling with illness. “He should not have been playing at all. He had dysentery for two or three days. He also had gastric problems and he knew he probably wasn’t well enough to play.” she said. Foe, it appears, had been desperate to play in the game in front of his home fans at Lyon.

This week City’s players returned to pre-season training after not kicking a ball since the start of May. It will be six weeks until the season starts yet Foe and for that matter Thierry Henry, Robert Pires, Alpay and the other players at the Confederations Cup who play in the Premiership are still carrying on a season that with the Japanese Wolrd Cup proceeding it barely had a preparation period.

French public prosecutor Xavier Richaud said of Foe’s death

“It is surely cardiac, but we need to make further anatomical and toxicological tests. But one can’t draw conclusions.”

I am not a medical man. I am not an expert on stress levels on the body and I am not making a decisive statement but when a physically fit man drops dead and all that can be found wrong with him is “gastric problems” is it not times to examine the rigours that football is putting on it’s players?

Arsene Wenger said as a complaint about the tiredness levels his players will suffer next season in an interview before Wednesday that no one would remember the Confederations Cup of 2003 in 2013. Sadly now they will and the sight of Foe, eyes rolled over on the field, will speak a thousand times louder than Wenger has managed to do. Will anyone listen?

The Italian courts have been arguing over procecutions for motor racing men Frank Williams and Patrick Head over the death of Ayrton Senna for years with the idea being that Senna was sent out to his death owing to the Williams team’s negligence, that although Williams and Head did nothing to cause the accident that killed Senna, they knew that there was a risk of a potentially fatal accident occurring and that that would make them liable for manslaughter charges.

From August 2001 to June 2003 an International Premiership footballer playing in the World Cup in 2002 and the Confederations Cup 2003 may have played over 100 high-pressure games in just under 100 weeks. While the situation is not the identical it is within the same area and questions should be asked if only to get an answer to “Why does 28 year old physically fit man die playing football?”

Marc-Vivien Foe is part of a generation of footballers who play more stressful, higher paces and more intense football than any that have followed it and they do it more often for more of the year. The human body has a breaking point and what football, from managers like Arsene Wenger in the Premiership to Sepp Blatter at Fifa, need to find out is has playing too much football contributed to Marc-Vivien Foe passing his?