Professional soccer player Patrick Ekeng died after collapsing during a home match in Bucharest on Friday, reportedly from a heart attack.
Ekeng, a 26-year-old midfielder for Dinamo Bucharest, wasn’t given adequate first aid at the stadium, a doctor at the hospital said. An investigation was launched into his death on Saturday, amid claims by the hospital and fans that he had not received proper care. Ekeng was given CPR during a two-minute ambulance ride to the hospital, but the vehicle didn’t have equipment that might have helped him, Romania’s Digisport reported.
Ekeng had been on the field for seven minutes when he collapsed in the 70th minute of a match against Viitorul Constanta. The game was being televised live in Romania. Local media reported he had been stricken with a heart attack.
It took 2 minutes, 47 seconds for Ekeng to be moved to ambulance. Once he reached Floreasca Emergency Hospital, Ekeng received CPR for more than 90 minutes before he was pronounced dead.
“He was brought to us in cardiopulmonary arrest at the emergency room, in an ambulance, without resuscitation measures as far as we know,” hospital doctor Cristian Pandrea said.
“We started resuscitation measures that lasted approximately one hour and 30 minutes. These measures were, unfortunately, without result.“
Dinamo club doctor Liviu Batinean said that CPR was performed in the ambulance.
Fans and teammates could be seen crying as Ekeng was taken away from the stadium, and mourners gathered outside the hospital.
Club director Ionel Danciulescu said Ekeng didn't seem to have any health problems before the game.
Ekeng joined Dinamo in 2015. He also played for Cameroon. Previously, he played for Spanish club Cordoba CF, Swiss club Lausanne, and French club Le Mans.
Just two weeks ago, Ekeng netted his first goal for Dinamo, against Steaua in the semi-final of the Romanian Cup.
Ekeng is survived by a wife, with whom he was due to join in France in a matter of days.
Players, his former team and Brazilian soccer legend Cafu were among those mourning his death.
The Romanian Football Federation announced on Saturday that it would postpone the weekend's matches and push the Romanian Cup final between Dinamo and CFR Cluj from Tuesday to May 17.
Ekeng is not the first professional soccer player to die during a match. Catalin Hildan, the captain of Dinamo Bucharest, collapsed and died of a heart attack during a game in 2000.
Leagues have considered increased medical screening for athletes in the incredibly strenuous sport.
This story has been updated to include new medical details and news of an investigation into Patrick Ekeng's death.