On-field death of ill-starred Morosini breaks hearts
Rome: All football in Italy was called off at the weekend following the death of the Livorno midfielder Piermario Morosini, a player whose private life had been plagued by tragedy.
The 25-year-old, on loan from Serie A side Udinese, collapsed on the pitch during a Serie B game at Pescara and was later pronounced dead in hospital.
Morosini's death continued a tragic family history in which his parents died while he was a teenager, and after which his disabled brother committed suicide. He is survived by an older sister, who is handicapped.
Shock ... Piermario Morosini has died after collapsing on the pitch during Livorno's match against Pescara. Photo: AFP
The events on Saturday came just under a month after Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during his side's FA Cup quarter-final match with Tottenham, prompting calls for more stringent medical checks on footballers.
The Italian Football Federation's general manager, Antonello Valentini, responded to the tragedy by suspending all remaining weekend football, starting with the Serie A match between AC Milan and Genoa.
Fans already at the San Siro stadium responded to the announcement largely with applause, although some jeered.
The Italian Olympic Committee's president, Giovanni Petrucci later invited all Italian sports federations to observe a minute's silence in memory of Morosini.
Morosini suffered a cardiac arrest during the first half of the match.
He collapsed suddenly and was treated on the pitch before being taken in an ambulance to Civile Santo Spirito hospital in Pescara.
The former Italy under-21 international was later pronounced dead.
Pescara's masseur, Claudio D'Arcangelo, said he knew immediately something was wrong. ''I darted onto the pitch because I understood straight away that it was a serious situation,'' D'Arcangelo said.
''I didn't even wait for the referee's permission. I gave him heart massage straight away and for a moment I felt he was coming back but there was nothing we could do.''
There was a delay as the ambulance was initially prevented from entering the stadium because of a police car blocking the way.
Pescara goalkeeper Luca Anania said: ''There were moments of great confusion and I tried to understand what was happening, also with regard to the delay of the emergency services.
''They said the ambulance couldn't come onto the pitch because the entrance was blocked by another car. Some of my team-mates carried the stretcher to the ambulance,'' Anania said.
Local authorities opened an investigation into the death but a heart specialist said the delay made no difference.
''A minute more or less in the ambulance would not have done anything,'' Leonardo Paloscia told the Italian news agency ANSA. ''His heart had stopped and never started beating again. We tried to reanimate him for an hour-and-a-half but it was all to no avail.''
Italian media were alerted to Morosini's death initially by an ''explosion of shouts and tears'' from his teammates who had come to the hospital, ANSA said. The official confirmation followed shortly afterwards.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter was among those to pay tribute to Morosini. ''The tragedy that has affected everyone that loved him has brought great pain to everyone who loves football,'' Blatter said on his Twitter page.