Christian Benitez passed away on Monday in Qatar
Club Al Jaish confirm Benitez died from heart failure
Al Jaish says it will pay for all costs of flying Benitez's body and family back to Ecuador
Club promises 'endless support' to wife and family of player
The sudden death at the age of 27 of a footballer in Qatar has prompted an outpouring of grief across the world but also fevered speculation as to the cause of his passing.
Wednesday shed some light on Ecuadoran footballer Christian Benitez’s death after his club Al Jaish released a statement saying he died from heart failure.
“The official medical reports were issued by official state entities and stated that the sudden death was caused by heart failure,” read the statement issued by the club.
“Since the Ecuadorian star passed away on Monday morning in a sudden way, sadness and sorrow prevailed all over the club after hearing the sad news especially that Benitez has joined the team for few days only.”
The club has pledged to pay for all the expenses of transferring the player’s body from Doha back to Ecuador.
“The management assures again its endless support to Christian’s family and standing by their side during this hard time,” added the Al Jaish statement.
“The club has also made a special visit to the family and wife of the late player who are currently staying at Doha. The visit was made to check on the family situation and to assure that the management stands by their side and supports them.”
The 27-year-old died in a Qatari hospital where he was taken after complaining of abdominal pains. He had only made his debut for the club on Sunday.
With Qatar hosting the World Cup in 2022, Benitez’s death has sent shockwaves through the football world.
“This is a terrible tragedy, just awful news,” said a Qatar 2022 spokesman, while football stars also took to Twitter to pay their respects to the man nicknamed ‘Chucho’.
Fellow Ecuador star Antonio Valencia, who plays for Manchester United, uploaded several photos of him with the forward and wrote: “This pain (is) very strong my brother but we love you.”
Ecuador’s interior minister Jose Serrano was among those who took to the micro-blogging site to comment, writing: “Dear Chucho, thank you for your goals and your happiness.”
Sunderland’s Craig Gardner, who played with Benitez at Birmingham City between 2009 and 2010, also paid tribute to his former teammate.
“Can’t believe Christian Benitez has died,” Gardner wrote. “I had the pleasure to play with him. He was a top bloke. My thoughts go out to his family.”
Ermen Benitez, the player’s father, told CNN en Español Tuesday that his son had never had any heart problems before he arrived in Qatar.
“When a football player is signed, they always do tests,” he said. “And he passed.”
Benitez joined Al Jaish on July 6 after signing a three-year deal.
He was a favorite in Ecuador, scoring 24 goals in 28 appearances for the national team.
Benitez established himself as a promising talent at El Nacional, the same club where his father starred during the 1980s.
After leaving the Quito-based club, Benitez enjoyed success in Mexico with Santos Laguna before earning himself a loan deal to play in the English Premier League with Birmingham City in 2009.
He scored four times in 36 appearances, making his debut at Old Trafford against Manchester United and scored his first goal against Liverpool.
But his failure to earn a permanent deal in England saw him return to Santos Laguna where he finished the season as top scorer.
He joined rivals America in 2011 and helped it win this year’s Clausura title – finishing as top scorer along the way.
Benitez died on Monday, one day after playing his first game for new side El Jaish.
“The club would like to offer its sincere condolences to the family of the player,” a club statement said on Monday.
“Benitez had recently joined the club from Club America for three seasons. The player participated for the first time with the team during yesterday’s match against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheikh Jassem Cup without complaining of any health problems.
“His sudden departure is a big shock for each member of the technical and administrative staff. He was a player that over the short period he was here was regarded for his high moral character.”
In recent years Daniel Jarque, Antonio Puerta and Marc-Vivien Foe are some of the other footballers to have died from heart problems.