MILAN, Italy — Former Italy Under-21 midfielder Piermario Morosini died Saturday after suffering cardiac arrest and collapsing on the pitch during his team Livorno’s Serie B match at Pescara. He was 25.
Edoardo De Blasio, a cardiologist at Pescara’s Santo Spirito hospital, confirmed Morosini’s death, saying "unfortunately he was already dead when he arrived at hospital. He didn’t regain consciousness."
Morosini, who was on loan from Serie A side Udinese, fell to the ground in the 31st minute of the match and tried unsuccessfully to get up several times before receiving urgent medical attention on the pitch. A defibrillator was used on the player, who also had his heart massaged, before an ambulance arrived on the pitch to take him to hospital where doctors tried to revive him for around an hour and a half.
A consultant in the hemodynamics department at the hospital, who was watching the game and rushed to help before the ambulance arrived, said Morosini never regained consciousness.
"Morosini never had a single heartbeat again," Leonardo Paloscia said. "From when I arrived he never gave a sign of revival, not in his respiration nor his heartbeat. When I arrived everything (his heart, respiration) was stopped.
"No one can say what the cause was, I think nothing will come out until after the autopsy."
The autopsy will likely be held on Monday. All Italian matches this weekend were immediately called off after the death was announced.
"We are living through a drama," Pescara’s general manager, Danilo Iannascoli, told Sky Italia.
It was the latest high-profile case of a football player collapsing from heart failure on the pitch, coming less than a month after Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba suffered cardiac arrest during a game in England. Muamba survived, but remains in intensive care.
It also comes days after AC Milan and Italy striker Antonio Cassano was given the all clear by a 10-man committee of experts to resume playing again following minor heart surgery after he fell ill with stroke-like symptoms on a flight back from a game six months ago.
An inquiry into Morosini’s death will be opened and will focus particularly on the car belonging to traffic police which blocked the ambulance’s way into the stadium, creating a delay. A window had to be broken so the car could be moved, while players and officials were frantically gesturing for the ambulance.
"At the beginning we didn’t really understand the seriousness of the situation," Pescara goalkeeper Luca Anania said. "I immediately ran to Livorno’s half, where Morosini had fallen.
"There was great confusion and I seemed to understand that there was also a bit of delay in help arriving, because they said the ambulance couldn’t get on the pitch because the entrance was blocked by another car. Some of my teammates helped carry the stretcher by hand to the ambulance."
The match was abandoned with Livorno leading 2-0, and several players left the field in tears. Livorno players and officials rushed to hospital, where they were told their teammate had passed away.
"Only tears. There are no words to express what I (felt) when I found out about Piermario Morosini’s death," FIFA President Sepp Blatter tweeted in Italian.
— The Associated Press