Friday, April 4, 2008

Holy fucking shit.


This story is awful, so let me just cut to the chase.

A Croatian soccer player died Thursday from head injuries after colliding with a wall adjacent to the pitch in a first-division match last weekend.

Hrvoje Custic, 25, had been induced into an artificial coma after being injured in the fourth minute of Zadar's 1-0 win over Cibalia on Saturday. He was declared dead by Dr. Edi Krauc.

What more can one say?

For all the shock and horror of this story, it keeps us aware of the human element of the game, and of sports and athletes in general. It's happened in all sports in the last decade: Darryl Kile and Korey Stringer are the first to come to mind. In soccer, we saw Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell collapse on the field right after Christmas. As the article goes on to mention, before him it was Sevilla midfielder Antonio Puerta in August, another player that collapsed and died on the pitch. Before that, it was former West Ham and Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe, who collapsed and died from heat exhaustion during a 2003 Confederations Cup Match.

Life is fragile, as is life from a soccer perspective. At the end of the day, you hope never to read stories like this, but like death and funerals in general, they will never stop.



The one thing that makes this stand out is that it wasn't death from "natural causes", but a death that could have been prevented due to the poor structural stability of the Zadar's ground.

Custic was fighting for the ball with Cibalia's Tomislav Juric near the sideline when he slid from the field and hit his head on a wall. Juric has not been charged for any offense.
The Croatian press has apparently been reporting for years with concerns about the stadium's safety, but little has been done about it. Sad as it is, hopefully now these concerns will be acted upon, but the scar remains that it took a horrible accident like this before something was done.
The player fell awkwardly after a challenge during the Cibalia match and, as his momentum carried him off the field of play, his head struck a concrete wall beyond the touchline. He was taken to hospital but, despite intensive treatment, his condition began to deteriorate yesterday.

"It's awful," said Zadar captain Jakov Surańá. "We are all crushed. I have lost a friend and team-mate."

The Croatian FA has postponed all of this weekend's Prva Liga fixtures as the nation mourns.

1 comment:

The Fan's Attic said...

If Michael Jackson was sponsoring a soccer club, I always assumed it would be Young Boys.

/too soon.