The family of Ajax footballer Abdelhak ‘Appie’ Nouri have said they are ‘shocked’ by weekend reports that the club were aware the player had a previously undisclosed heart defect.
NRC revealed at the weekend that Nouri’s family have instructed a specialist personal injury lawyer, John Beer, to review the medical support given to the player after he collapsed on the pitch during a friendly match against Werder Bremen on July 8 last year.
The 20-year-old suffered severe and permanent brain damage and remains in a low state of consciousness in hospital in Amsterdam. Officially he remains a member of the Ajax squad and his number 34 shirt has not been reallocated, but doctors say he will never be able to play again.
NRC revealed that the heart defect was discovered during a routine medical screening in 2014 by the Dutch FA (KNVB) after Nouri was selected for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship squad. The governing body informed the club but concluded that Nouri’s condition was not dangerous to his health.
Lawyer Khalid Kasem said it had come as a ‘huge shock’ to Nouri’s family to learn of his heart defect. ‘If the family had known about a heart defect earlier they would have pressed for a thorough investigation and regular follow-up tests in order to determine what the nature and risks are of a condition of this kind.’
The family are also taking legal advice about the treatment Nouri received on the pitch immediately after collapsing in Germany to see if Ajax club doctors followed the correct procedure.
Video footage of the incident showed that around five minutes elapsed between Nouri falling to the ground and club doctor Don de Winter attempting a heart massage. According to the protocols issued by world football’s governing body FIFA, medics are supposed to treat any spontaneous collapse on the pitch as a suspected heart failure and start resuscitation immediately, both by hand and with a defibrilator.
Ajax declined to comment on the details of the case, but club director Edwin van der Sar said De Winter and the club’s medical team had responded ‘very adequately’ to the emergency. Ajax added that discussions with the family were ongoing and would not be conducted via the media.