THE CIRCULAR

Medical Emergencies: What’s really happening at these football stadiums?

Photo by Thomas Serer on Unsplash

It seems that every weekend that you tune in to watch the football this season, there is another medical emergency in the crowd that is alerted to by the players and ultimately suspends the match. The scenes can be quite distressing to watch and spectators are left without knowing whether the person is ok or not. The phenomenon seems to have just started happening after fans were allowed back into the stadiums after Covid-19 lockdown, but surprisingly the virus has nothing to do with it.

1st incident

The first time an incident like this caught my eye was back in October 2021, during the Tottenham/Newcastle match.

Around 40 minutes into the match a fan had collapsed in the stands due to cardiac arrest. Frantic fans began notifying stewards and individuals on the pitch.

Eric Dier, one of Tottenham’s defenders, was one such individual that then notified the referee of the match, who subsequently halted the match. The match was suspended for a total 12 minutes as the man was taken to hospital.

Newcastle later confirmed that the man was in a stable condition via their Twitter.

2nd incident

The second time I was alerted to this was on the 1st of December with fans collapsing in both the Chelsea/Watford and Southampton/Leicester games.

On the 12th minute at Vicarage Road, Watford’s home stadium, both sets of players were taken off the pitch as medical staff from both teams rushed to the Graham Taylor stand.

Again it was supporters in the stands who managed to get the attention of the players, who then notified their staff medical team.

The supporter who suffered from the cardiac arrest was stabilized and then stretchered to hospital.

Just minutes later, some 100km away, another fan suffered a similar faith in Southampton’s St. Mary’s Stadium. But his collapsing was not due to cardiac arrest.

The fan was collapsed during the halftime of the match, with the scoreboard reading: “Second half delayed due to a medical incident. Thank you for your patience.”

The fan was stabilized in the grounds and then taken to hospital.

3rd incident

On the 29th of January, three separate fans across three different stadiums suffered from a medical emergency in the stands. The games in question were in Fulham, Oldham and Wycombe.

The incident in Fulham occured in the 12th minute of the game and despite both team medical staff rushing to the scene and providing treatment, the fan passed away later that evening.

The supporters and Oldham and Wycombe, despite halting the game, were able to recover from their emergencies.

What is happening?

Many people have began touting the Coronavirus vaccination as the root cause of these incidents, but these claims have no validity and merely serve as ways to spread disinformation.

Despite this seeming like a brand new issue, it has actually always been happening. A study undertaken in Germany in 2011 proves this. The study was done to examine the effectiveness German football stadium staff to deal with cardiac arrests, also shows the frequency how these incidents. During the study a total of 52 cardiac arrests were witnessed, which equated to about 1 in every 400,000 fans.

When looking at the size stadiums in England, these numbers being to make sense. Each stadium holds around 60,000 – 80,000 fans and with there being at least 10 matches played every weekend, it makes sense that we would see fans suffering from medical emergencies.

Why now?

The rise in medical emergencies that viewers are witnessing on television is in fact because people are more health conscious after the pandemic. Fans have always suffered from these incidents, but the games were never stopped and were dealt with by the medical staff for the stadium, not the teams.

Nowadays people are more inclined to help one another which has lead to the “apparent” rise in supporter medical emergencies. Since then the Premier League has issued a statement saying that fans should not attract the attention of players or team staff, but instead inform their nearest steward

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