Abandoning Spurs v Bolton honoured Fabrice Muamba – and football

_Z8L4171.JPG(Fabrice: right, with Sol Campbell. Image: Barry Zee)

Over the past few days, I have wondered whether to post an article about Steve Bruce’s reflections on his sacking by Sunderland as manager. There has been plenty going on in French football since my return to France 12 days ago – and there is today’s fighting draw at Goodison to maintain our interest in the FA Cup.

But what does any of that matter when set against the awful news from White Hart Lane about the Bolton Wanderers player Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed during the day’s other cup tie, Spurs-Wanderers, and appears as I write to be fighting for his life?

This was tonight’s statement from Bolton and the hospital concerned:

Bolton Wanderers can confirm that Fabrice Muamba has been admitted to The Heart Attack Centre at The London Chest Hospital where he is in a critically ill condition in intensive care.

It brings back sad memories of two occasions:

* the death of Marc-Vivien Foe, who played for a season at Man City on loan from Lyon, after collapsing during an international match when playing for Cameroon. He fell unchallenged during a Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia, coincidentally in Lyon.

* the Heysel disaster when the 1985 European Cup Final between Liverpool and Juventus match was played even after 39 Juventus fans had died in a crush

On the first of those memories, let us hope the outcome is happier and that Fabrice, who has overcome a difficult start in life in the Congo to play for and captain the England Under 21s*, makes a strong recovery.

On the second, while accepting that crowd control reasons seemed pressing at Heysel, let us congratulate Howard Webb, Bolton and Spurs for their dignified and decent decision to call a halt to today’s game.

I am pleased
that this small addition to the find of goodwill towards Fabrice Muamba has been preceded by good wishes from Salut! Sunderland readers:

Bill Taylor:

Let’s spare a thought for Fabrice Muamba who reportedly is fighting for his life after collapsing just before half-time in the Spurs-Bolton game. It appears to be a heart problem. He’s only 23, poor guy. We must hope for better news of him.


A lovely man by all accounts and a fine player. let us hope for the best.

… sentiments which Salut! Sunderland endorses with every positive thought it can muster.

* The Football Association chairman, David Bernstein, said: “On behalf of The FA, I would like to send our thoughts and prayers to Fabrice Muamba and his family this evening. Fabrice has played 33 times for England Under-21s, captaining Stuart Pearce’s side during this time, and is a player, and more importantly a person, we care greatly for. We are in contact with Bolton Wanderers over Fabrice’s condition and are awaiting updates.”
The Guardian adds:

Muamba, who was born in Kinshasa, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was granted asylum status in Britain in 1994 at the age of 11, rejoining his father who had been forced to flee his homeland on political grounds. He went on to represent England at junior level, up to the under-21s. He began his career at Arsenal’s academy, where he was a popular member of the club’s youth setup. He moved to Birmingham before signing for Bolton in 2008.

Colin Randall

12 thoughts on “Abandoning Spurs v Bolton honoured Fabrice Muamba – and football”

  1. Playing football again after this is improbable even if the lad makes a good recovery. It puts everything into perspective. Lets hope he’s out of the woods after the horrendous events of the weekend.

  2. The most recent news is encouraging but there will still be a long wait before we know how complete his recovery will be.

    Clive Clarke, who played four or five times for Sunderland, suffered a similar attack whilst playing on loan for Leicester City. He recovered sufficiently to take up a career as an agent but was unable to ever play again.

    Let’s hope the positive news is just the beginning and Fabrice continues to make progress and makes a complete recovery.

  3. I just saw the footage of the incident for the first time this evening. A moment of real humanity from both sets of supporters when they realised the seriousness of the situation.

    The well being and recovery of Fabrice Muamba is the primary concern, but I couldn’t help but wonder, quite how players could get themselves up and ready to play any match at all in the coming days, but especially the completion of this tie against Tottenham. It was an appalling thing for the players and fans to witness. It really shouldn’t happen to a young lad in the prime of his life. Truly awful, but it was refreshing to see that there is still some humanity left amongst people which was reflected in the behaviour of both sets of fans, the refereee as well as the media in this case. We can at least be grateful for that. Get well Fabrice Muamba.

  4. I can understand the team’s feelings but I really they decide to continue in the Cup. Abandoning it is probably the last thing Muamba would want them to do. Latest reports say he’s showing “small signs of improvement.” This is very good news.

  5. The latest I have read is that Bolton are considering withdrawing from the competition. Whilst wishing for his full recovery and having sympathy with the wishes of the Bolton players, I hope they find the mental strength to compete and complete the tie.

    In another tragic incident over the weekend the father of Kilmarnock’s Liam Kelly suffered a fatal heart attack as the team were winning the Scottish League Cup. Thoughts with Liam and his family too.

  6. I just watched TV footage of the incident. Very sad and very moving. I was amazed at the delicacy of the camera crews in staying right away fom Muamba and the efforts to resuscitate him. There was no sensationalism, only respect.

  7. I think that the way that both sets of supporters greeted the news of the match being abandoned can only attract praise, of the most generous and wholehearted nature.

    What I think will be the “litmus test” will be the way that both clubs and The F.A. handle the replay.

    Will they be prepared to allow supporters who had tickets, for yesterday’s game, to utilise those for the game when it is replayed?

    Or, will they attempt to profit from the tragedy by insisting that supporters have to purchase new tickets?

    Only time will tell!

    • No question. There is no way that tickets will not be honoured for the replay.

      The FA will be slaughtered otherwise.

      • I would HOPE that will be the case but I find it hard to replicate your, seeming, 100% faith in The F.A. to “do the right thing”.

        As I said, previously, “Only time will tell”.

  8. I think it’s not only Webb and the two teams who are to be congratulated for what was indeed a “dignified and decent decision” but also the crowd, who applauded the decision and joined together in a spontaneous tribute to Muamba. If there’s any good to be drawn from what happened today, it’s that sign that football, for all its many faults and problems, still has its roots in good, sound soil.
    Meanwhile, yes, let’s muster all the positive thoughts we can for Fabrice Muamba and hope for better news in the morning.

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