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21 March 2012

Premier league footballer’s collapse on the pitch ignites prayer trail

Premier league footballer’s collapse on the pitch ignites prayer trail

by Asha Kurien

In the aftermath of Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest during the FA cup game between his team the Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur last Saturday, his supporters have flooded social media channels with messages of prayer and encouragement.

Even three days after the incident, #pray4muamba was trending high on Twitter and pages titled ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with Fabrice Muamba’, ‘Pray for Muamba’ and ‘Pray for Fabrice Muamba’ have emerged on Facebook.

Furthermore, several newspapers echoed this idea in their headlines. The front page of the Sun newspaper on 19 March read: “God is in Control: Praying for Muamba” while the headline “In God’s Hand’s” appeared on the Daily Star.

The game was nearing half time when Muamba collapsed unexpectedly onto the turf, evoking an eerie silence from the spectators. Medics rushed to treat the 23- year-old midfielder and it soon became evident that the situation was critical.

shauna muambaA few minutes later, Muamba was carried off in a stretcher to London Chest Hospital and the game was abandoned. On Sunday morning, his fiancée Shauna tweeted: “God is in control. Please keep Fabrice Muamba in your prayers xx.”

This plea seems to have resounded across the social media network with tweets from not just fellow team mates and fans but also Tottenham players such as Kyle Walker, who posted: “Doesn’t matter who you support. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t a football fan. Doesn’t matter if you aren’t religious. Pray for Fabrice Muamba.”

United striker Wayne Rooney expressed his concern by tweeting: “Hope fabrice muamba is ok. Praying for him and his family. Still in shock.”

Messages such as these were not reserved to be communicated on virtual platforms. On Sunday, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill pulled up his t-shirt to reveal a vest with the words ‘Pray 4 Muamba’ on it after scoring a goal against Leicester City. Furthermore, Real Madrid sported shirts that said “Get well soon Muamba” on them.In response to these events, BBC’s home editor Mark Easton wrote in his article, “Prayers for Muamba”: “I suspect many millions of Britons, whether they have faith or not, will have felt moved to offer a silent appeal to an invisible power asking that the young footballer pull through.”

When asked, “What do you think these reactions to Fabrice’s cardiac arrest represents?”, Premier Christian Radio presenter Andy Walton responded: ”The way that fans, footballers and (the) press have reacted has been fascinating…. Personally, I found most of the coverage to be very sensitive, and have been pleased to hear the Bolton manager Owen Coyle (a committed Catholic) and many others calling for prayers for Muamba. There is nothing we can do practically to help, but the fact that we can pray, if we choose, is a real and heartfelt response for many."

As fans and supporters wait with baited breath for Muamba’s recovery, hope seems to be rising as posts such as these appear on Twitter: 

Emmanuel Eboue @TheRealEboue: Muamba is talking again.. yessssssss.. somebody say Halleluyah!! I am happy...

Benik Afobe @Afobe: Just got to the hotel in Liverpool and I'm hearing Fabrice Muamba is showing improving signs! Love that.. Prayers are working. Keep it up!