The tragic turn of events that trailed the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between South Africa and Nigeria on Wednesday, which resulted in the deaths of at least four Nigerian spectators, has raised concerns and conversations on the health and safety of football fans. The search light is on how to prevent and
The tragic turn of events that trailed the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) semi-final match between South Africa and Nigeria on Wednesday, which resulted in the deaths of at least four Nigerian spectators, has raised concerns and conversations on the health and safety of football fans. The search light is on how to prevent and educate fans on how to prevent future reoccurrence of such unpleasant incidents.
Several media reports have indicated that not less than four Nigerians died while watching the Nigeria match but the actual triggers may not be known. Some persons attributed it to the decision of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which disallowed the second goal scored by the Nigerian team but that is neither here nor there as autopsy reports on the cause of deaths are not available.
While it is being speculated that some of the victims may have some underlining health issues including heart and high blood pressure, it is therefore, being advised that persons that cannot handle tension should stay away from activities that could raise their tension. One of the victims, a former member of the House of Representatives who represented the Ika Federal Constituency of Delta State, Dr. Cairo Ojougboh, reportedly died while watching the AFCON when the penalty was awarded against Nigeria.
Similarly, The Punch reported that Chief Osondu Nwoye, an Anambra State-born businessman from Amanuke in Awka North Local Government Area, but a resident of Abidjan, died while watching the Nigeria-South Africa semifinal match on the same day.
Additionally, according to reports, two members of the National Youth Service Corps from Adamawa State and Kaduna State passed away on the match day while watching the Super Eagles play the Bafana Bafana of South Africa. During the riveting match, Peter Yunana and Samuel, the corps members, went into shock and were later ruled dead.
While there has not been a medical diagnosis to determine the cause of their death, it is being insinuated that their deaths could be as result of a combination of shock, emotional stress, and a pre-existing cardiac condition. The Nigeria Cardiac Society, lent some credence to this in a statement, where it explained that the possibility of such incidents is inevitable when cardiovascular health is not properly managed.
The society’s president, Augustine Odili, who signed the statement said that the risk factor for heart disease does not preclude a lack of physical activity, smoking, and other unhealthy lifestyle habits that can lead to a heart attack and high blood pressure. He added that another risk factor for heart disease and stroke, particularly in the elderly, is hypertension.
Undoubtedly, the thrills and excitement and the rollercoaster of emotions experienced during such games can exert significant stress on the cardiovascular system, and this is a significant pointer to the awareness of health conditions and taking necessary precautions when watching such nerve-wracking football matches.
The society further pointed out that “The untimely deaths of these Nigerians are a stark reminder that we must be vigilant about our cardiovascular health. Sports and other emotional events can trigger arrhythmias, heart attacks, and strokes in those with underlying heart conditions.
It urged Nigerians to know their family history and risk factors and get regular screenings. Take steps to manage conditions like hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Avoid smoking, eat healthy, exercise, and manage stress.
“For those with heart disease, take medications as prescribed and follow your doctor’s advice. Avoid getting overly excited during games and take breaks as needed.
Sport Betting as Another Risk Factor
Another emotion trigger and risk factor for heart related trauma is sport betting. There is no gainsaying in the fact that sports betting has become a pervasive phenomenon among average Nigerians, taking the attention of the old and young football and other sports enthusiasts in Nigeria. For fans of sports, betting is a side gig that can provide excitement and thrills when bettors make predictions and win while cheering on their favorite football teams.
Numerous Nigerians have turned to sport betting as a means of meeting their needs and improving their financial situation because of the country’s high cost of living, which is a result of inflation and economic difficulties. Many Nigerians have turned to betting websites as an escape from their country’s unstable economic situation.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians, particularly among the younger generation, see sports betting as a long-term investment. Furthermore, due to the country’s high rates of unemployment and poverty, a significant number of people have been fortunate enough to profit financially from their wagers.
However, there is a darker side to gambling that may pose health risks in addition to the thrills and excitement. This includes the pressure to win, and financial stakes, that may contribute to heightened stress, anxiety, and even anger among football ethusiast. These emotional extremes, if sustained, can have serious implications on cardiovascular health, potentially leading to heart attacks.
The fear of losing money to bet is one of the pivotal causes of anxiety in which many bettors have lost quite a lot of money when their favourite football teams did not emerge victorious in the competition.
While the thrills and excitement of football support and betting have been observed as the main reasons behind cardiovascular health challenges among sports lovers, it is expected that individuals would pay more attention to their health status to avoid casualties in the process of expressing their excitement for their favourite games.
Furthermore, the government is responsible for salvaging the country’s economy by ensuring a low cost of living, which appears to reduce the risk of death among Nigerians.