Barcelona star Abidal needs new liver
updated 6:51 AM EDT, Fri March 16, 2012
Barcelona defender Eric Abidal, who needs a liver transplant, is battling to overcome his second serious health scare in just over a year.
- Barcelona defender Eric Abidal to have surgery to replace liver in coming weeks
- French international had surgery to remove a tumor on his liver last March
- Abidal should be able to play top-level football again if surgery is successful, says U.S. transplant surgeon
(CNN) -- Barcelona defender Eric Abidal is to undergo surgery to replace his liver, according to a statement released on the Spanish club's website on Thursday.
"During the next few weeks, the player will undergo a liver transplant as a result of the progress of his liver disease," the statement said.
"A transplant was considered an option from the start of his treatment a year ago. At the express wishes of the player, the Club asks that the maximum respect for the player's privacy be observed."
The 32-year-old Frenchman underwent surgery to remove a tumor on his liver last March, but recovered in time to appear in the Champions League final against Manchester United two months later.
He's so strong as he showed last season and I'm sure he'll show that again now
Carles Puyol, Barcelona club captain
Barcelona club captain Carles Puyol described the news of Abibal's impending surgery as "a heavy blow" at a press conference Thursday.
"It was an unpleasant surprise. Eric was there with us and afterwards we spoke with him, but what we said will be staying amongst ourselves," Puyol said, FCBarcelona.com reported.
"It's really him who has lifted us -- he's so strong as he showed last season and I'm sure he'll show that again now...things like this bring us all closer together."
Dr Stuart Knechtle, a liver transplant specialist from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, says Abidal has a good chance of returning to top-level football in the future.
"Assuming it all goes well, he should be able to compete. There are other examples of athletes that have competed at international level after liver transplantation," Knechtle told CNN's World Sport.
Knechtle highlighted the cases of Chris Klug, a U.S. Olympic snowboarder who competed after his liver transplant in 2000 and former NBA star Alonzo Mourning who also returned to action after a kidney transplant in 2003.
The transplant is a highly complex procedure which will require intensive medical care, says Knechtle, but after an initial recovery period Abidal should be able to recover his strength.
"He will need to take medication twice a day for the rest of his life. He will, especially in the early period, require multiple doctor's visits, but that should gradually taper off over time."
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Wed June 19, 2013
In Brazil many believe the World Cup has seen the rich line their pockets, while the poor make do with crumbling public services.
No European team has ever won a World Cup in South America, but that could likely change next year, says CNN's John Sinnott.
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Fri June 14, 2013
Brazil's fans were ready to celebrate a first World Cup triumph, but what happened next has left a burning scar in the nation's psyche.
NN World Sport examines why racism continues to be a problem in football and what is being done to tackle discrimination.
updated 8:07 AM EDT, Thu June 13, 2013
Germany's Under-21s may bowed out of the European Championship Finals in Israel, but their experiences left a lasting impression.
Be part of CNN's coverage of European Champions League matches and join the social debate.
CNN's James Masters has had a close look at the next generation of European football stars at the U21 championship in Israel.
updated 10:25 AM EDT, Thu June 6, 2013
A former Palestinian player, once held without charge for three years, is campaigning for a boycott of Israel's staging of a major European tournament.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
When Germany's two biggest soccer clubs go head-to-head in the Champions League final, there can only be one winner: German industry.
updated 9:56 AM EDT, Wed May 22, 2013
The Bundesliga model of sustainability is very much in vogue. But are Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund creating a dangerous duopoly?
updated 6:15 AM EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
CNN takes an exclusive look at the venue of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
updated 1:10 PM EDT, Fri May 17, 2013
David Beckham embraced his tag as a "gay icon" and has been credited with breaking the big taboo -- homosexuality in football.
updated 3:50 AM EDT, Mon May 13, 2013
'King' Alex Ferguson is quitting Manchester United but the $3.17 billion brand will survive, according to experts.
updated 10:18 AM EDT, Tue May 7, 2013
Italian football lags behind its other European rivals commercially, but newly-crowned Italian champions Juventus is showing Serie A clubs an example of revival.
updated 10:34 AM EDT, Wed April 24, 2013
Luis Suarez's biting of Branislav Ivanovic is the latest episode of moments of madness when soccer stars behave badly.
updated 5:38 AM EDT, Fri March 29, 2013
Sunderland's partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation is part of its bid to woo the African market.
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
Each year as many as 700 Cameroonian young footballers leave Africa in search of a professional career abroad.
updated 8:01 AM EDT, Mon May 6, 2013
Referees across Europe are feeling the heat. Insulted, threatened, chased off the field, attacked, hospitalized and, tragically, killed.
updated 7:25 AM EST, Tue February 26, 2013
Footballers have a battery of physios, fitness trainers and doctors all striving to fine-tune their physique -- but are they missing a trick?
updated 6:41 AM EDT, Mon June 10, 2013
Hardcore Italian football "ultra" Federico is a Lazio supporter who happily admits directing monkey chants at black players.