AFC medical chief advises Anwar Ali against playing football

Andrew Carleton of the US battles with India's Anwar Ali during their Group A match. Jan Kruger - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

New Delhi -- In a big blow to Indian U-17 World Cup player Anwar Ali's fledgling career, the medical committee chief of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has advised the national federation against allowing him to continue playing the game, considering his congenital heart condition.

The 20-year-old Ali, now with the I-League second-division side Mohammedan Sporting Club of Kolkata, has been told by the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to stop training after he was diagnosed with the heart condition last year.

AIFF General Secretary Kushal Das confirmed that the AFC Medical Committee chief Dato Gurcharan Singh, who was consulted by the medical committee of the national federation, has advised against Ali's continuation of the game.

"Mr. Dato Gurcharan's views were taken in a consultative capacity (by AIFF Medical Committee) and he has advised against Anwar continuing to play football in view of his heart condition," Das told PTI.

Ali is suffering from a heart condition called left apical ventricular hypertrophy, which was detected while he was with the Indian Super League (ISL) side Mumbai City FC last year.

"Competitive sports activity is associated with an increased risk of Sudden Cardiovascular Death (SCD) in adolescents and young adults with clinically silent cardiovascular disorders," said AFC Medical Committee chief Singh in his advisory contained in the report prepared by the AIFF Medical Committee.

"However, many affected athletes aspire to continue practising leisure time sports activities or at least maintain a physically active lifestyle despite their non-eligibility to engage in competitive sports."

Taking into account Singh's advisory as well as the reports of the outside consultants and hospitals that investigated Ali, the AIFF's Medical Committee "unanimously" advised the youngster to refrain from playing football.

"The AIFF Medical Committee is unanimous in its opinion ... considering the fact that the left apical ventricular hypertrophy can lead to artificial fibrillation and sudden death, we would advise Anwar Ali to refrain from any competitive or physical sports particularly football.

"It is a sad choice that he has to choose between football and his health," the report signed by AIFF Medical Committee chief, Vece Paes, said.

Das said that the report and the recommendations of the AIFF Medical Committee have been sent to the Emergency Committee of the national federation, which will take a decision in a few days.

He added that the AIFF is ready to help Ali in whatever way it can to support his livelihood.

"If the AIFF decides to de-register Ali, we will see what we can do to help him out. It could be making arrangements to have a faster coaching certificate/license for him so that he can remain associated with football (in management side) or some other way. But first let us wait for the AIFF Emergency Committee decision."

It is also learnt that last year Mumbai City FC offered Ali to be absorbed in the management side of its youth development set-up on a handsome pay package but he was not interested in that and wanted to continue playing.