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AFC's Medical Committee Chairman advises Anwar Ali to restrict himself from participating in 'competitive sports'

05:45 BST 24/09/2020
Anwar Ali Indian Arrows
AFC Medical Committee echoes what AIFF's Medical Committee had recommended for Anwar Ali...

AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Medical Committee Chairman, Dr Dato Gurucharan Singh, has stated that it would be best for Anwar Ali to refrain from participating in competitive sports due to his ‘congenital heart condition’, Goal has learnt.  

He was found to be suffering from left apical ventricular hypertrophy which constituted a significant health risk for the player, as per numerous reports.

In a report submitted to the AIFF (All India Football Federation), Dato Gurucharan Singh has mentioned four key messages which substantiate that playing football professionally constitutes a health risk for the youngster who had represented India at the 2017 U17 World Cup. 

The report highlighted the following factors:

1. Inherited cardiomyopathies are recognised leading causes of sports-related cardiac arrest in young competitive athletes and for this reason both European and American recommendations for sports eligibility agree that athletes with cardiomyopathy should be restricted from competitive sports activity.

2. Carriers of desmosomal gene mutation with no signs of arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy should also be disqualified from competitive sports activity because intense physical exercise promotes the development and progression of the disease phenotype.

3. There is growing evidence that patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator may practice sports safely. However, it must be emphasised that participation in competitive sports at high cardiovascular demands may promote disease progression.

4. Patients with cardiomyopathy and mild phenotypic expression at low risk of sudden death may practice moderate-intensity recreational exercise. Patients should be educated to avoid peak exertion and recognise warning symptoms.   

It has been amply made clear that participating in professional football will be detrimental for the young defender and it could possibly aggravate his illness.

However, he can continue playing football in leisure where exertion will be far less. Singh writes, "However, many affected athletes aspire to continue practising leisure-time sports activities or at least maintain a physically active lifestyle despite their non-eligibility to engage in competitive sports."

He also mentions that competitive sports activity is associated with an increased risk of sudden cardiovascular death (SCD) in adolescents and young adults with clinically silent cardiovascular disorders. 

Inherited cardiomyopathies are recognised leading causes of sports-related cardiac arrest in young competitive athletes, with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) accounting for one-third of fatal cases in the USA and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy for approximately one-fourth in Italy.  

Pre Competition Medical Assessment (PCMA) may allow the identification of asymptomatic athletes who have potentially lethal cardiomyopathies and protect them from the risk of sudden cardiovascular death (SCD) through restriction from competitive sports. 

It is an unfortunate turn of events for the talented youngster who was earmarked as one to watch out for. After impressing for Indian Arrows in the 2018-19 season, Ali was roped in by Indian Super League (ISL) outfit Mumbai City FC who first identified his health risk.

He was advised not to play by experts in Mumbai, following which the club and India head coach Igor Stimac helped him to fly to France for expert opinion and treatment.

In 2019, the Minerva Punjab academy graduate travelled to France to be examined by Dr Francois Carre, chief of the medical department of sports medicine at the University Hospital of Rennes, who opined that the “practice of a competitive sport in competition presented an excessively high risk of a serious cardiac accident."