Celebratory somersault causes fatal spinal injury

Updated: 2014-10-22 07:20

By Reuters in New Delhi(China Daily)

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A 23-year-old Indian soccer player has died from severe spinal cord damage after attempting to celebrate a goal with a somersault, a regional official said on Monday.

Bethlehem Vengthlang FC midfielder Peter Biaksangzuala died on Sunday at a hospital in the northeastern Indian state of Mizoram after the incident in Tuesday's match in the third tier Mizoram Premier League.

"We are shocked by the case. We at the Mizoram Football Association did all we could but could not save him," MFA secretary Lalnghinglova Hmar said.

After scoring the equalizer against Chanmari West FC, a flipping Biaksangzuala landed awkwardly and was lying unconscious as his teammates surrounded him and gestured for help.

"The association president is also the state health minister and he did all that was possible, even though he was out of station.

"We considered the option to fly him to Delhi but his condition was pretty bad.

"He was mostly unconscious, occasionally saying a few words," Hmar said.

Bethlehem has decided to retire the No 21 jersey as a tribute to Biaksangzuala while Hmar said the MFA would organize a match in his memory.

FIFA said any additional measures to curb goal celebrations would have to be approved by soccer's rule-making body, the International Football Association Board.

"This is a tragedy and we are very concerned about this incident," said FIFA in a statement.

"It is the responsibility of IFAB to rule on amendments to the Laws of the Game."

FIFA said any national association can propose a change to the rules and the suggestion must be submitted by Dec 1 to be considered at IFAB's next annual general meeting.

The laws of the game currently stipulate automatic yellow cards if a player removes his shirt, covers his face with a mask, makes a provocative gesture or climbs a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal.

The laws also state: "While it is permissible for a player to demonstrate his joy when a goal has been scored, the celebration must not be excessive.

"Reasonable celebrations are allowed but the practice of choreographed celebrations is not to be encouraged when it results in excessive time-wasting and referees are instructed to intervene.

"Referees are expected to act in a preventative manner and to exercise common sense in dealing with the celebration of a goal."

Last month, a player in Brazil escaped injury when he leapt into a hole as another goal celebration went wrong.

Coritiba forward Joel leapt the advertising signage behind the goal, unaware that there was a hole with steps leading down from the pitch to the dressing rooms.

Although he landed in the hole, his fall was softened by a tarpaulin and he was able to continue the match.

An investigation into Biaksangzuala's death is continuing.

Celebratory somersault causes fatal spinal injury

(China Daily 10/22/2014 page24)