The tension that goes with watching Nigerian soccer teams play in international tournaments is often so injurious to the health of many soccer enthusiasts. The picture was aptly depicted recently on the social media after the Nigeria-Burkina Faso match when a Nigerian was shown as he was watching the match on a television screen, but supported on both sides by a nurse and a medical doctor. While many soccer fans survive such endeavours, others do not.
One of the few exceptions happened in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, last Sunday when a 40-year-old soccer fan, identified as Moshood Ismail Owolabi, suddenly collapsed and started foaming in his mouth during the Super Eagles' quarterfinals match against the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
The incident happened at a viewing centre located at Lanlepe compound, Oke-Sokori in Abeokuta. Eyewitnesses told THISDAY that Owolabi, who had watched the match expectantly, lost consciousness when an Ivoirien defender deflected Victor Moses' shot at the Ivoirien goal post.
His collapse caused a stampede at the viewing centre, as he had to be rushed away for treatment by some of the fans while others stayed back to continue watching the match. THISDAY gathered that when he collapsed, he was said to have been rushed to a nearby clinic, Success Medical Clinic, where he was given first aid treatment before being referred to First Alpha Hospital. He was said to have died before reaching the hospital.
Owolabi, a father of two, was an engineer with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in Abeokuta. He is survived by aged parents and a widow.
The Medical Director of Success Medical Clinic, Odede Sulaiman Kolawole, told reporters that Owolabi was already dead before he was brought to the clinic. Kolawole blamed his sudden death to excessive intake of carbon dioxide for a prolonged period of time, resulting in what he called anoxia.
However, Taiwo Adebayo, a neighbour of the deceased who was also at the viewing centre when the incident happened, said Owolabi might have died from a cardiac arrest, adding that he started foaming when he fell. Adebayo disagreed with Kolawole, saying that Owolabi was rushed to the clinic alive. He added that the doctor was not available at the hospital, implying that if Owolabi had been given medical help promptly, he might have survived.
Owolabi's widow, Tawakalitu, was still in shock when THISDAY visited her at the family's apartment in Abeokuta. She described the incident as a dream, which she had not come to terms with. She recalled that her late husband had roamed around the area with a close friend for hours impatiently waiting for the commencement of the match, without knowing that he was spending his last hours on earth.