Shocking news. Jarque was just 26 years of age. He apparently died of sudden cardiac arrest and could not be revived.
“The doctor Cervera carried out CPR on the player and used a defibrillator, which showed that the arrest was non-responsive.
“The medical services continued carrying out CPR, administering adrenaline and atropine for an hour, but the player’s heart did not react, so finally that determined his death.”
Espanyol were in Italy preparing to play Bologna this Sunday in a friendly. The club has canceled the match and the rest of the tour and will fly back to Barcelona. Sports director German de la Cruz said:
“Our players and staff are utterly bereft. They cannot take it in. A few hours ago he was a team-mate and now he is gone. It’s awful. Inexplicable. We put our players through exhaustive medical checks before the start of pre-season training and not the slightest problem was noted.”
This tragic death comes two years after Sevilla defender Antonio Puerta collapsed on the pitch in the club’s opening day match. He was diagnosed with Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD) which is a form of a cardiomyopathy which afflicts young adults and potentially leads to fatal right ventricular arrhythmias. Puerta died after suffering “multiple organ failure and irreversible brain damage as a result of multiple prolonged cardiac arrests.”
A month and a half ago, the world remembered Mark Vivien Foe who collapsed six years ago in the 2003 Confederations Cup semi-finals playing for his country Cameroun against Colombia. He suffered cardiac arrest brought on by the same cardiomyopathy that afflicted Puerta. Six months later, Hungarian midfielder Miklos Feher of Benfica died at age 24 years while playing against Vitoria Guimaraes.
We do not know whether Jarque had the same condition but by the suddenness of his death, there is a strong suspicion that there could be an underlying ARVD. Unlike Foe and Puerta, Jarque’s death did not take place on the pitch but in his hotel room. He was talking on the phone to his girlfriend who was in her final months of her pregnancy when he suddenly collapsed. His frightened girlfriend called fellow team mate Ferran Corominas who had to climb into the room along with tour manager Jose Maria Calzon and they found Jarque on the floor. The team doctor Miquel Cervera was summoned and CPR was administered and a defibrillator used but to no avail. Jarque was probably dead by the time the Florence EMS arrived with the proper equipment. The brain suffers irreversible damage once blood supply stops more than four minutes.
Jarque was part of the 2002 squad which also included Fernando Torres and Andres Iniesta that won the U19 European title. With Espanyol he won the Spanish cup in 2006 and was runner-up in the UEFA Cup in 2007. He spent his entire playing career at Espanyol having risen from the youth ranks. Coach Mauriciol Pochettino made him captain replacing veteran Raul Tamudo because of his strong defensive performances.
Espanyol recently inaugurated their glittering new stadium, the Cornella-El Prat with a thumping win over Liverpool just a few days ago. The players had expressed their delight at the new venue.
Amongst them Jarque. ” “People in the stands enjoyed themselves, and we had fun on the pitch. I got goosebumps – we can accomplish important things here if we have continued support.” He also expressed his optimism at Espanyol’s prospects. “Next season we can pursue other goals. We [Espanyol] are going to grow slowly. Our objectives are currently quiet, but ultimately we must try our luck and try to enter Europe.”
I can only say that the Cornella El- Prat will be a somber place when the Liga gets underway on the 30th of August. Espanyol travel to Atletico Bilbao before hosting Real Madrid on the 13th of September.
Jarque’s death should spur FIFA into drastic action and they should introduce rules make ARVD testing mandatory. Players discovered with such conditions can then be counseled. Football is a contact sport and knee and ankle injuries are commonplace but no one expects a tragedy of such magnitude.