Player dies after collapsing on pitch

Unlike Bolton's Fabrice Muamba, Italian midfielder waited vital minutes for emergency treatment

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An Italian footballer died yesterday after collapsing during a game in a tragic echo of the incident involving the Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba.

Piermario Morosini, 25, who played as a midfielder for Serie B side Livorno, suffered a cardiac arrest half an hour into yesterday's game against Pescara. Treatment was given on the pitch and Morosini is understood to have been conscious when he was taken away by ambulance.

The Italian news agency Ansa reported that he suffered a heart attack in the ambulance and was put into a medically induced coma at the hospital. He was later pronounced dead at the Santo Spirito hospital in Pescara, where staff said he had not regained consciousness. Head of cardiology Dr Leonardo Paloscia said: "His heart [after stopping] never started beating again." An autopsy will be conducted.

The tragedy comes four weeks after Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during his team's FA Cup quarter-final at Tottenham. The former England under-21 international was given extensive treatment on the field before being carried off on a stretcher and rushed to the London Chest Hospital. It took 78 minutes for Muamba's heart to start working on its own again, but he has made incredible progress since.

Morosini, a former Italy under-21 international, fell during open play, and twice tried to stand up before the referee's attention was caught by a team-mate. Emergency services were called, but reports indicate that the ambulance's arrival was obstructed by a car belonging to traffic police.

Danilo Iannascoli, general manager of Pescara, told Sky Italia: "I don't know if the ambulance was late, but I know that the entrance on to the pitch was blocked by a vehicle." The newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that the fire brigade had to smash the windscreen of the vehicle, release the handbrake and push it out of the way.

Players from both teams were visibly upset after the incident, clutching their heads and weeping as they filed off the playing field.

During Morosini's on-pitch treatment, fans called on match officials to abandon the game. One fan collapsed and required medical attention.

The player's death is the latest in a series of tragedies to befall the Morosini family. Morosini's mother died in 2001 and he was orphaned two years later at the age of 17. This was compounded by the suicide of his disabled brother three years later, which left Piermario and his sister on their own.

Before his death, Morosini, who had been playing for Livorno on loan from Udinese, was reported as saying: "These are things which make you change your life. But at the same time, they put into your body so much anger, and they help you to give everything to make what was a dream of my parents also come true."

The Italian Football Federation cancelled all this weekend's football matches, and sporting bodies have been asked to observe a minute's silence at all events this weekend.