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Chairman of English FA’s Cardiology Consensus Panel advises AIFF to let Anwar Ali play

Chairman of English FA’s Cardiology Consensus Panel advises AIFF to let Anwar Ali play

Sayan Chatterjee

Published: 12 Oct 2020 6:31 AM GMT

Dr Sanjay Sharma, who is the Chairman of the English Football Association’s Cardiology Consensus Panel, has said that Mohammedan SC and junior India defender Anwar Ali should be allowed to resume playing competitive football as long as he and his family ‘understand the risks’ and under regular surveillance.

The expert, who was the lead cardiologist for the London Olympics and is also the medical director of the London Marathon, attended All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) medical committee meeting on Sunday where he submitted his analysis of the situation in writing. 20-year-old Ali, who is touted as the next big thing in Indian football, was recently diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a condition in which heart muscles thicken abnormally without any obvious cause.

Following this, the AIFF and the Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) medical commissions recommended Ali not to engage in high-intensity training of any sort as it would pose a ‘serious risk to his life’. However, this recent development comes at a time when the player has moved Delhi High Court in search of a solution, with the next hearing scheduled for the 20th of this month.

Ranjit Bajaj, who is the founder of the Minerva Punjab Academy where Ali started off his footballing journey, had reached out recently to Dr Sharma and took to Twitter last night to highlight the main points from his analysis of Ali’s case. In his report, Dr Sharma clearly states, “Anwar does not have any obvious risk factors such as family history of sudden death from HCM, syncope, severe left-ventricular hypertrophy or exercise induced arrhythmias or non-sustained ventricular tachycardia”.

He added that based on a study of deceased Italian athletes with heart conditions and considering a number of other variables, Ali’s ‘annual risk is approximately 1% per annum and therefore it may be considered reasonable for him to participate in competitive football’.

He also added that it is important that Ali and his family understand that this condition is effectively incurable and can only be managed over time through regular surveillance by experts. It may also cause symptoms during intensive training and exercise which may reduce the number of years in his playing career.

However, he is of the opinion that as long as the authorities are alert to the situation and have people trained in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and in the use of a defibrillator, Ali’s participation in matches should not be a problem. Additionally, he has recommended that having a defibrillator on standby is a must whenever he is involved in training or during matches, and that he should not be competing in extreme heat (>30 degrees Celsius) unless he is already acclimatized to such conditions.

Although this comes as extremely positive news for Ali, his family and club as well as fans who wish him well, it remains to be seen what the AIFF makes of these recommendations with another medical committee meeting scheduled in the next few days.

Also read: Anwar Ali who was diagnosed with heart condition says he wants to play

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