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Fabrice Muamba: 'FIFA must consider players in Qatar 2022 decision'

By Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 6:44 AM EST, Thu November 21, 2013
Fabrice Muamba wept as he addressed the crowd at White Hart Lane -- the English soccer ground where he collapsed due to cardiac arrest during a match in March 2012. Fabrice Muamba wept as he addressed the crowd at White Hart Lane -- the English soccer ground where he collapsed due to cardiac arrest during a match in March 2012.
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Closure for Muamba
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Fabrice Muamba wants FIFA to put player welfare at the center of Qatar 2022 decision
  • Muamba retired after suffering on-field cardiac arrest in March 2012
  • The former England Under-21 midfielder's heart stopped for 78 minutes
  • No decision on the scheduling of Qatar 2022 will be made until after 2014 World Cup

(CNN) -- He is the player whose heart stopped beating for 78 minutes and who subsequently retired at the age of 24.

Now the welfare of footballers is top of Fabrice Muamba's agenda and he has urged FIFA to put the wellbeing of players at the center of any decision on the scheduling of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced on Twitter last month that no decision on the staging of the 2022 World Cup -- be it in Qatar's summer or winter -- would be made until after the 2014 tournament in Brazil.

"I hope FIFA will have a second thought because playing in those conditions is very dangerous for people," the 25-year-old told CNN.

"The heat and the humidity in that country can damage people; they have to look at the bigger picture."

Fabrice Muamba on playing soccer again
Muamba: I've played football again

Former England Under-21 international Muamba suffered an on-field heart seizure while playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham Hotspur in March 2012.

Read: Emotional Muamba gets closure

The Congo-born midfielder was revived by medics before making a remarkable recovery in hospital.

"You worry, not just me but every player," continued Muamba. "The humidity, the heat, playing in those conditions it is very worrying."

President of world football's governing body since 1998, Blatter launched a consultation process on the issue involving "all stakeholders in Qatar 2022."

Harold Mayne-Nicholls led the FIFA inspection team which examined each of the bidding countries for the 2022 World Cup before delivering his report in October 2010.

Mayne-Nicholls concluded that Qatar was a high-risk option because of its soaring temperatures -- but it was still chosen by 14 of the 22 executive committee members in the final round of voting in December that year.

Fabrice Muamba shaking hands with Dr Andrew Deaner (left) and Dr Sam Mohiddin (right) from Barts Health NHS Trust. The 24-year-old Bolton Wanderers midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest during a match against Tottenham Hotspur on March 17.
Fabrice Muamba shaking hands with Dr Andrew Deaner (left) and Dr Sam Mohiddin (right) from Barts Health NHS Trust. The 24-year-old Bolton Wanderers midfielder suffered a cardiac arrest during a match against Tottenham Hotspur on March 17.
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Fabrice Muamba leaves hospital Fabrice Muamba leaves hospital
Fans of Bolton Wanderers and a host of other football clubs lay shirts outside of the Reebok Stadium in a show of support for Fabrice Muamba. Fans of Bolton Wanderers and a host of other football clubs lay shirts outside of the Reebok Stadium in a show of support for Fabrice Muamba.
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"In June and July you cannot play," Mayne-Nicholls told CNN last month when asked about the conditions in Qatar.

"It's not for the players. The players will be OK with the cooling system but what about the fans?

"You'll have 50,000 fans walking three, four, even six blocks or more like in South Africa where I walked 10 blocks.

"They will be walking in 40 degrees and it's too much. One or two crucial cases will damage the entire image of the World Cup and we must be careful."

Read: Devastated Muamba retires from football

Muamba is pleased his experiences have raised awareness of heart conditions in football, but he wants to see the sport continue to prioritize player safety.

"We're trying to reach a standard where we're providing the best available equipment for the boys," said Muamba, who began his career with Arsenal. "Also making sure every player gets a heart screen so we detect any damage or any medical issue.

"What I tried to do was raise awareness of sudden cardiac arrest, having a defibrillator not just in the stadium but in every public place so we can save lives and ensure peoples safety."

Read: Amnesty International -- Qatar rife with migrant worker abuse

Read: Qatar 2022 defends World Cup project

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