Chelsea legend Didier Drogba has called for better medical checks to protect footballers in his native Ivory Coast after the death of a player during a top-flight game.
Racing Club d’Abidjan (RCA) defender Moustapha Sylla, 21, collapsed during the match against SOL FC on Sunday and was pronounced dead on the way to hospital, according to his club.
Video of the incident shows Sylla stumbling before losing his balance and falling to the ground motionless near the centre-circle, prompting opposition players to call for medical assistance.
RCA president Logossina Cisse described Sylla as a “rising star that left too soon” while the Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) led tributes on social media.
“In this moment of pain and emotion, FIF extends its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased, to the managers and players of RCA, as well as to the Ivorian football family,” FIF wrote on Facebook.
Patrice Motsepe, president of the Confederation of African Football, also expressed his shock at “the tragic passing of such a young life who showed promise on the football field”.
Sylla won the 2022 Malian title with Djoliba AC before joining RCA in September.
‘When will sports medicine arrive?’
Reacting to the death, former Ivory Coast captain Drogba demanded that players be offered more medical protection by footballing authorities.
“Condolences to Ivorian football,” wrote Drogba, who last year lost a bid to run football in Ivory Coast and whose international team-mate Cheick Tiote died following a cardiac arrest in China back in 2017.
“Three deaths of Ivorian professional league players in less than four years.
“Where are the compulsory medical visits for each professional player? The blood tests, the ECGs, the stress tests? When will sports medicine arrive?”
A death in South Africa
Meanwhile, football fans in South Africa are also mourning the passing of a top-flight player.
Richards Bay midfielder Siphamandla Mtolo collapsed during training on Tuesday.
The Premier Division side, who currently sit sixth in the table, have said they will release a further statement in due course.