There have been two high-profile cases of racial abuse (involving Liverpool’s Luis Suarez and Chelsea’s John Terry) which dominated the headlines earlier in the season.
And in recent weeks, dodgy officiating has come under severe scrutiny, especially in the English Premier League.
However, the 2011-2012 season will probably be most remembered — sadly — for the puzzling heart attacks of highly fit sportsmen on the field of play.
Just weeks after English Premier League midfielder Fabrice Muamba survived a very public cardiac arrest in front of a watching TV world in his club Bolton’s FA Cup quarterfinal tie against Tottenham Hotspur came the death on Saturday of 25-year-old Italian Piermario Morosini.
The Livorno midfielder, on loan from Udinese, suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the pitch during his club’s Serie B match at Pescara.
Morosini tried to get up but collapsed again before receiving cardiac massage. He was conscious when he was stretchered off the pitch, but an ambulance was unable to reach him quick enough due to a car belonging to the traffic police blocking the stadium entrance.
He subsequently died en route to the hospital, and all Italian Serie A and Serie B league games were cancelled as a mark of respect. Sports minister Piero Gnudi has requested for athletes to undergo more frequent medical tests.
Days after Muamba’s heart attack last month, India’s D. Venkatesh died after collapsing on the field during a local league game for A division club Bangalore Mars.
Though teams have been screening for cardiac issues since the passing of Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe in the Confederations Cup in 2003, there’s still a debate over how thoroughly players are being tested and examined on a regular basis.
In the United States, there are about 50 to 100 sudden deaths among athletes in middle, high school and college every year, according to Dr. Marlon Rosenbaum, associate clinical professor of medicine and pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons.
The most common cause of sudden death among young athletes is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, when the heart is thickened and enlarged. This problem can be detected by an initial ECG screening, followed by an ultrasound of the heart for diagnosis.