Ajax admits 'inadequate' Abdelhak Nouri medical treatment after on-field heart attack

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The midfielder collapsed during a friendly fixture in July 2017, with the incident leading to him suffering severe and permanent brain damage

Ajax have taken responsibility for "inadequate" faults in their medical treatment of Abdelhak Nouri after the midfielder suffered an on-field heart attack in July 2017.

A product of the club’s academy system collapsed during a friendly clash with Werder Bremen.

He was offered medical assistance on the pitch and quickly rushed off to hospital in a trauma helicopter, but was left with severe and permanent brain damage as a result of the incident.

Ajax claimed at the time that they had acted appropriately and done all that they could to aid the then 20-year-old when the promising player collapsed.

The Eredivisie outfit have, however, after further investigation, now accepted responsibility for failings on their part, with managing director Edwin van der Sar saying in a statement posted on the club’s official website: “We have important news about the further course of the terrible incident with Abdelhak Nouri last year. 

“On the basis of new insights that we have unfortunately only been able to collect very recently, we come to new conclusions. It means that the treatment of Abdelhak on the field in Austria in July, 2017 was inadequate. We therefore recognise liability for the consequences thereof. First of all, I would like to apologise to the Nouri family at this place for allowing us to change our position so late.

“Last year we paid a lot of attention to the medical treatment on the field in Austria with regard to Abdelhak's accident. A lot has been said and written about that. Unfortunately, we ended up in a situation in which, for a short time, our conclusions and those of the family and her advisers have diverged. I want to emphasise that we regret that this is so.

“As a club, we first based our analysis of the treatment on the field on the information we received from our own people, but also on television images and other medical data. An external medical advisor, who was assisted by an intensive care physician, assessed all available information of that moment for us and provided a professional second opinion.

Abdelhak Nouri

“At a certain moment the situation was this: after all available information was submitted by Ajax to his medical and legal advisers, they concluded that the treatment on the field was adequate and that on the basis of that conclusion there is no reason for liability from the club. This judgement is also based on television images and on the reading of the heart rate monitor Abdelhak had.

"A heartbeat was detected by the practitioners on the field and this was subsequently confirmed by the results of the heart rate monitor. Based on that information and external opinion, we as a club have taken the position that there was no reason to assume that the field did not work well.  

“The petition filed by the Nouri family with the Dutch FA [KNVB] contained new information for us, which was an important reason to ask other experts for a third opinion. We have begun to doubt the conclusions of our advisers. And we obviously wanted 100 per cent certainty that our position was correct. Hence questions arose about the information underlying the previous medical advice and the position taken on that basis. This had to be investigated further. In the interest of Abdelhak and his family. And of the other players, employees and supporters of Ajax.”

Van der Sar added: “For a long time we, as management, but also our medical staff, were convinced that Abdelhak received the best possible care in the field. If then, by leading cardiologists, after a thorough examination of the circumstances, things are looked at differently, this is hard. Even though we have insisted on this third opinion ourselves .

“The first thing we will do is to consult with the Nouri family again. The point now is that we do what is necessary to give substance to the responsibility that we, as a club, but certainly also as a person, as colleagues and friends of Appie, have. We want to solve this in a good way and that is what is now focused on. 

“The use of the arbitration case was whether we acted adequately in the field. That is not the case and we obviously take responsibility for that. We have also previously promised the family that if we find out that we are wrong, we will take responsibility. Which regulation this is going to lead to is something that we will first discuss with the family. I want to offer our very deep apologies to Abdelhak, also in front of you, on behalf of Ajax, his family and relatives.

"It must have been terribly frustrating that it took so long that our lectures diverged, on top of the grief of what happened to Abdelhak.”

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