July 30, (THEWILL) – An outbreak of malaria among Libya’s national indoor football team turned fatal after it resulted in the death of one player and left several others sickened following the team’s participation in the African Minifootball Cup in Nigeria according to Libya’s sports ministry and its Minifootball Federation.
A Wednesday statement from the ministry revealed that Ayman al-Naqrish was transferred to a hospital in Tunisia after his condition deteriorated and that was where he died. He was one of 16 players who were infected in the outbreak.
Five other players are still in critical conditions based on information made available by a medical official who accompanied the team to the tournament in Nigeria earlier this month.
In the Libyan media, the responsibility for their condition has been placed squarely on the transitional government and the National Futsal Federation for allegedly failing to abide by health protocols and other medical precautions during the competition.
The Libyan Sports Minister Abdel-Shafei al-Jweify reacted by appointing a special commission to oversee the investigation into the demise of the 24-year-old mini-football player.
Futsal, as the mini-football game is referred to in the Middle East, is a form of the game played on a much smaller court with a hard surface and mainly indoors. The African Minifootball Cup in Nigeria was due last year but was delayed over the coronavirus pandemic until July, this year.
This year’s competition was only the second time the tournament was held and nine teams participated, including the host. In the final, Egypt defeated Libya to win the trophy.
The beaten finalists returned to Libya via Egypt only for squad players to become sickened upon arrival in their home country. It was not immediately certain if the Libyan infections were an isolated occurrence or if players from Egypt and or other teams in the tournament have taken ill upon reaching home.
In Libya, the remains of Al-Naqrish’s were brought home from Tunisia on Wednesday and he was buried in the western coastal city of Misrata. His is the second such death for Libyan Football after that, in 1989, of the superstar footballer, Ahmed al-Buseify, who also died of malaria following his participation in the World Cup qualifiers in Cote d’Ivoire.