Weekend matches in Italy's soccer leagues have been cancelled following the death of a Serie B player during a match on Saturday.
Piermario Morosini, a 25-year-old midfielder on loan to Livorno from Udinese, collapsed to the pitch in the 31st minute of his team's match at Pescara after suffering an apparent cardiac arrest.
Despite doctors at Pescara's Santo Spirito hospital working on Morosini for over an hour, there were never any signs of life.
"Unfortunately he was already dead when he arrived at hospital," said Edoardo De Blasio, a cardiologist at the hospital. "He didn't regain consciousness."
Local media report that a parked police car that was blocking the entrance to the pitch delayed the arrival of an ambulance on the field.
Pescara's chief executive Danilo Iannascoli told Sky television in an interview that Morosini was conscious when he was loaded into the ambulance.
"He looked me in the eyes when he entered the vehicle," Iannascoli said.
Matches called off
After Morosini's death, the Italian Football Federation made the decision to suspend all remaining weekend matches. The next one scheduled to begin was between AC Milan and Genoa, with fans already in the stands when the decision was made to call off the matches.
Morosini had previously played on Italy's Under-21 team and had played five matches in Serie A for Udinese, as well as three Italian Cup matches and one UEFA Cup appearance in 2005/06. After that he had several stints on loan to other clubs, and had gone on loan to Livorno this winter.
The team issued a statement following his death: "Wearing the colours of Livorno, Piermario always showed his athletic ability and that he was an exceptional man. Everyone at Livorno expresses the most sincere condolences to his family."
That family consists only of an older sister, as Morosini's parents both died while he was a teenager, as did his brother.
Morosini's death comes a few weeks after Fabrice Muamba, a midfielder for English side Bolton Wanderers, collapsed to the pitch after suffering cardiac arrest in a match against Tottenham. Muamba survived and is making a remarkable recovery despite being clinically dead for over an hour.
mz/av (AFP, AP, Reuters, DPA)