ASHOK PUROHIT/AIPS in Muscat: Jiri Dvorak, FIFA’s chief medical officer, has suggested banning footballers who feign injuries during matches because they cloud the judgement of referees who then lose ‘precious moments’ in deciding on genuine injuries.

In an interview with Muscat Daily during the Olympics playoff between Senegal and Oman in Coventry, UK last week, Dvorak said, “We need to ban players faking injuries on the field, which seem to happen for tactical or different reasons. There might not be a contact and suddenly you find a player crawling on the pitch. In such cases, the referee cannot do anything.”

Dvorak added that the primary responsibility of a referee is the well-being of a player. “For a referee to judge whether the player has simulated or suffered a real injury is very difficult. He may possibly lose some precious moments to decide. Frankly, it’s an ethical issue, which needs to be solved ethically by every player, just as one tries to lead an ethical life.

“Simulations shouldn’t occur at all and any player who does it should know that he is potentially bringing in danger his or her fellow player somewhere else in the world.”

Asked about the on-field collapse of Bolton Wanderers’ Fabrice Muamba in March and the death of Livorno’s Piermario Morosini in April, Dvorak said that it is for the coaches to educate the players and for players to take responsibility for their health.

“It’s very important to have management on the field despite FIFA’s emphasis on prevention and pre-match examinations. We have to make a very clear and a very strong statement, work together with medics, paramedics, referees, coaches, and finally, the players.”

Dvorak pointed to the steps taken by the world governing body in this regard, including mandatory medical examinations since 2007 for all players before FIFA competitions.

“We will now be studying heart attack cases again in players to learn what causes sudden collapses like in the case of Muamba. The project will be put forward at a medical conference, to be held on May 23-24 in Budapest. If a cardiac event occurs on the pitch, we need to make sure people are ready for emergency interventions. We have also invited all national team doctors to establish a worldwide database for cases of sudden heart attack.”

Dvorak, who is also chairman of the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F–MARC), added that authorities ‘can do more’ in this regard. “For instance, we have recommended that national team players should have medical assessments before games. More member associations are following that advice.

“Also, at all FIFA competitions, we need to have an appropriate medical staff around the pitch and a defibrillator in the stadium. We want to educate all the member associations that having a defibrillator is important to help save lives.”

Dvorak admitted that though the well-being of a player ‘is an issue that no one in football can afford to take lightly’, it is impossible to prepare for every single potential on-field accident.

“We have to make sure that team doctors examine and evaluate the footballer’s clinical history, followed by a physical and then an electro cardiogram or an echo cardiogram, which could lower the risk, but we can’t eliminate it.”

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