AMSTERDAM: World players’ union FIFPro has expressed its concern about the level of the first-aid treatment available for Patrick Ekeng who collapsed on the pitch on Friday and died while playing for Dinamo Bucharest.
A statement from FIFPro, after discussions with national players’ union AFAN, said: “While it is too early to draw any conclusions from this tragic accident, as police continue to investigate the circumstances, it is clear some Romanian clubs have a history of skimping on the medical facilities.”
After Henry Chinonso Ihelewere died in a preseason match in 2012, AFAN had asked the Romanian federation to make it compulsory for clubs to have fully-equipped ambulances at all official and friendly matches.
This would have cost as little as €400 euros per club per match but the plan was not adopted, according to AFAN president Emilian Hulubei. Instead, clubs in the top three divisions have been allowed to have ambulances on standby with minimal equipment.
Hulubei said: “We are waiting for the results of the autopsy but it is possible that Patrick Ekeng could have died to save €400. If that is true it is very sad.”
Ekeng had undergone required health checks in Bucharest during his time playing in Romania but there was evidence that clubs from outside the capital were not doing so to save money.
More than a dozen clubs in Romania’s top two divisions are currently in financial administration.
Hulubei added: “We are continually fighting for more rights for players. Footballers in Romania are a long way from being treated the way normal workers should be.”
FIFPro general secretary Theo van Seggelen said: “Our thoughts go out to everyone affected. It’s simply shocking. After local authorities complete their investigation, we expect answers as to whether or not this tragedy could have been avoided.”