By Matthew Roscoe • 03 December 2021 • 0:18
Is there a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and footballers collapsing? Credit: Twitter
TWITTER fact-checkers have responded to growing concerns that people’s favourite footballers are collapsing due to heart issues as a result of taking the COVID-19 vaccine. This is following a spate of high-profile heart problems and collapses among professional footballers in recent months.
According to their latest findings, “there is no evidence currently that COVID-19 vaccines are linked to an increase in sportspeople collapsing or dying due to heart issues such as myocarditis.”
Apparently, “Reuters and Snopes independently verified various video clips in which athletes fainted”, the fact-checking organisations report.
“They both found that some of the videos involved people who had been previously diagnosed with COVID-19.
“In many of the cases, the athlete in question collapsed due to causes such as dehydration and overheating”, Reuters and Snopes say.
“Some of the videos also featured athletes who had not received the COVID-19 vaccines”, both report.
But is there really a link between the COVID-19 vaccine and footballers collapsing?
With so many people asking the question and tempers flaring on both sides of the argument, EuroWeekly News takes a look at five high-profile cases under scrutiny from the public:
29-year-old Christian Eriksen collapsed after suffering a heart attack during Denmark’s opening match of Euro 2020 against Finland. The harrowing incident saw his teammates surround him in a circle as he lay motionless on the pitch.
The Internazionale midfielder received life-saving treatment and had to have a cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) device implanted in October.
Eriksen’s heart attack appears to be the first of many resulting heart attacks that have occurred in sports stars since, leading many people to question what is going on – and whether the COVID-19 vaccine is linked.
However, in this case, it appears that “Christian Eriksen did not receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and is therefore not the reason for his collapse during Denmark’s Euro 2020 opener,” according to Reuters.
Speaking to Reuters, Inter Milan team director Giuseppe Marotta said: “[Christian Eriksen] didn’t have COVID and wasn’t vaccinated either.”
On November 20, Man City legend and Barcelona star Sergio Agüero was forced into ‘early’ retirement due to problems with his heart.
The 33-year-old Argentine striker had only started four matches for the Spanish side before suffering pains in his chest during the game with Alaves in late October. He was immediately rushed to hospital where he was eventually diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat – a ‘cardiac arrhythmia’.
Agüero has been quite vocal in his support for the vaccine, joining a vaccination campaign promoted by the Department of Health of the Catalan Generalitat, which invited those over 12 years of age – who have not yet received the Covid vaccine – to join him in getting the shot.
“Do it for yourself, for responsibility, for solidarity, for yours, for everyone”, said Agüero to the local press at the time.
“Right now in Catalonia, all people 12 years of age or older can be vaccinated.”
Barcelona said in a press release on September 12 that “99.9 per cent” of its professional athletes throughout the club had been immunised by that date – including Agüero.
However, despite concerns that the vaccine was the cause of the striker’s retirement; no official information, neither from FC Barcelona, nor from the medical team, nor from the player himself have been released about any such link.
Two of the symptoms/side effects listed by the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) include shortness of breath and irregular heartbeat which coincide with reports of how Agüero felt on October 30, “but there is no evidence so far to indicate this diagnosis related to the vaccination,” according to fact-checkers.
Sheffield United’s 30-year-old midfielder was taken to hospital after suffering a seizure during the second half of the Blades’ win at the Madejski Stadium on November 23.
Fleck was helped back to his feet by the medics after receiving attention for nearly 10 minutes and was given oxygen before being stretchered off.
He was put into an ambulance and taken to a nearby hospital before later being discharged.
A club statement at the time read: “John Fleck was conscious when he was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital and was communicative with club and medical personnel, as well as his family.
“After comprehensive medical examinations and staying in hospital overnight for observation, he has been allowed home, where United medical staff will continue to monitor him closely.”
The Athletic at the time reported: “The seriousness of the situation became apparent straight away, as frantic team-mates, led by Enda Stevens, urged the medics to get to Fleck as quickly as possible.
“As a hush descended on the Select Car Leasing Stadium, oxygen was administered to the prone midfielder.
“A few minutes later, Fleck being helped to his feet drew a warm round of applause from both sets of supporters. He later left the pitch on a stretcher and was taken to hospital by ambulance,” the report read.
Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier called for Fifpro, football’s world governing body, to look into Fleck’s collapse while radio pundit and ex-England winger Trevor Sinclair hinted there could be a link to the Covid jab.
However, a source close to the player said: “John Fleck’s issue was not vaccination-related.”
Speaking about the comments from Le Tissier and Sinclair, Professor Robert Dingwall, a public health specialist at Nottingham Trent’s School of Social Sciences, told the Telegraph: “It may be tempting to blame Covid vaccines but pundits do have a public responsibility not to fuel vaccine hesitancy without any real evidence that this is a common factor in widely separated events.”
28-year-old Wigan Athletic striker Charlie Wyke was taking part in a training session ahead of the League One side’s 2-2 draw at Cambridge United on November 23 before he suddenly collapsed and was rushed to hospital.
Thankfully, Wyke is recovering now and has revealed the shocking severity of his recent collapse – admitting that he suffered a cardiac arrest and would have died were it not for the ‘quick response’ of his club manager.
Many people were quick to point out the similarities in Wyke’s and John Fleck’s cases, especially with them occurring on the same day. However, those asking questions about a link between the incidents and the COVID-19 vaccine were given an answer by Wigan Athletic.
In a statement, the club said: “We can confirm that Charlie has not received a Covid-19 vaccination and Charlie’s collapse was not related to any Covid-19 vaccination.”
FC Sheriff’s Adama Traore fell to the ground clutching his chest and was immediately substituted during their Champions League tie with Real Madrid last month.
The 26-year-old turned around as the ball went out for a throw-in, before clutching his chest and falling to the ground. He was attended to quickly by club medics who used smelling salts in order to try and activate the player’s senses.
Traore remained breathing throughout the ordeal.
He was seen shaking his head in response to questions by the medics and was eventually raised to a sitting position before being helped off the field and back to the dressing room.
There have been no further reports on what caused the worrying incident.
However, despite many people trying to link Traore’s collapse to the vaccine, Doctors Professor Guido Pieles, a sports cardiologist at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, said: “At present, I would say this is still a coincidence. I don’t think we can say this is suddenly increasing,” when speaking after the incident.
Sadly though, it is not just footballers that have been collapsing, but also football fans in the stadiums.
Chelsea’s visit to Vicarage Road was suspended for more than half an hour on Wednesday, December 1 when a fan collapsed after suffering a heart attack. Minutes later, Southampton’s meeting with Leicester City was also suspended as a fan received medical attention in the stands.
On October 17, a Newcastle fan collapsed during his teams Premier League match against Tottenham at St James Park. Medics in the crowd rushed to help Alan George Smith, 80, after he suffered a cardiac arrest.
On November 8, a fan was stretchered out of the stands during Dagenham & Redbridge’s FA Cup clash with Salford City after suffering a fit at Victoria Road.
On October 23, a West Brom supporter collapsed in the West Stand of The Hawthorns during the first half. The man was treated by paramedics and ambulance staff before being placed on a stretcher and taken to hospital.
The second half of the same Championship fixture was also delayed when an away fan fell ill and was taken to hospital.
On September 29, Coventry City’s match at Luton Town was brought to a halt early in the first half after a Sky Blues fan collapsed at the game.
Stewards and paramedics were alerted to the situation and then proceeded to treat the supporter, who was eventually stretchered off to hospital.
It is unclear whether these incidents involving fans at football grounds has any links with the COVID-19 vaccine as the supporter’s vaccine details are not readily available.
As the British Heart Foundation reports, there is on average one heart attack every five minutes in the UK, so it also stands to reason that a stadium of thousands of people would experience its fair share of cardiac incidents.
A spokesperson from FIFA said it is not aware of a rise in cardiac arrests in football players, and fans, and has received no reports of any cases being linked to Covid vaccinations.
The spokesperson told Reuters: “FIFA is not aware of a rise in episodes of cardiac arrests as indicated in your email and no cases have been flagged in relation to individuals receiving a COVID vaccine.
“Generally speaking, FIFA is in regular contact with leading research centres and experts to do research on a variety of medical topics.”
Hopefully, as more data becomes available, any possible link between these young athletes and the vaccine will either be disproved or become significant enough to warrant further investigation.
Whatever the cause, we can all agree that we don’t want to see any more of our favourite sports stars collapsing on the pitch.
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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