Near-tragedy struck this weekend during an FA Cup quarterfinal soccer game between Tottenham Hotspur and Bolton Wanderers. 23-year old Fabrice Muamba collapsed during play just before halftime, and stopped breathing. Medical staff were unable to get the Zaire-born (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) player to breathe for two hours. Muamba has represented his adoptive country England at under-21 level and was a promising prospect for top flight strugglers Bolton. On Monday Muamba's condition was reported to have improved, but as yet nothing is certain for the player who represented Arsenal and Birmingham City before moving to Bolton in 2008. Unfortunately, football supporters in the UK took to Twitter during the fallout from the drama, and one in particular was less than gracious about the incident. Liam Stacey, 21, tweeted a barrage of racist insults at Muamba, including several directed at other tweeters who called him out on his actions. The Twitter community reported Stacey to the police, including ex-professional footballer Stan Collymore, and Welsh student Stacey is now looking at possible jail time. Stacey claims to have been drinking heavily while watching the Wales vs. France rugby match that day, and was intoxicated while sending the tweets.
Referee Howard Webb abandoned the game after speaking to both clubs' managers. Muamba's condition has been listed as "critical" since Saturday, so the latest statement is encouraging.
"He is showing small signs of improvement," the update said. "His heart is now beating without the help of medication and he is also moving his arms and his legs.
"However, his long-term prognosis will remain unclear for some time. He is still critically ill and will continue to be closely monitored and treated by staff in the London Chest Hospital's intensive care unit."
Currently there is no news on when the game will be replayed. It is probably the last thing on everybody's mind at this sad time. Although Liam Stacey may well be wishing he'd not drank as much as he did on Saturday and unleashed his series of unforgivable racist gloating tweets at a man on the brink of death.