It is impossible to conjure up the words that would do any justice to the feelings of the people in the stands at Pescara on Saturday as Piermario Morosini slumped to the floor for the second time, having creakily tried to lift himself up after half an hour of a Series B game against Livorno. It looks as though his heart had given out, and he was pronounced dead that afternoon.
The words, (such as “tragic” and “brave”) that are so easy to bandy around at such times as these, alongside accusations of organisational chaos and ineptitude, are, unfortunately, all too trite at such a time. They are as meaningless as the game that was taking place. They are devoid of meaning in the immediate aftermath of such a grotesquely sad story.
This was going to be a blog about watching the Grand National, England's premier horse race, secluded in Berlin from its hype and grandeur. Away from the yearly fanfare that tells us why it is such an important part of the sporting calendar. This was going to be an oh-so-terribly-witty ramble through a race that lead to the deaths of two horses, witnessed by thousands of social climbers in stupid hats bought especially for the day, written whilst cocooned in a country where the upper classes prefer to shoot their animals themselves, and where the majority of comments about the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix are confined to whether or not Nico Rosberg will get another win or Michael Schumacher will get another start in the front two rows, not as to how many human rights abuses will happen while the race is on.
And, although I was honestly saddened by the barbaric way in which these animals are flogged over fences that are too high to safely jump, I have participated in it too often – as a once a year gambler, or just a viewer on TV – that the words wouldn't have carried much weight anyway. Though I am appalled by the travelling circus of Formula 1, and its insistence that cash always beats freedom from repression in that eternal game of rock-paper-scissors, I would almost certainly still have boiled it down to a one-liner that cowardly kept it’s necessary distance from the real case at hand.
After Morosini’s death I don’t feel like being pithy, and can only say that, here in Berlin, I am lucky enough to say that I have never had to carry the burden of seeing such a scene in the game that I love, and that dictates all too much of my own, inconsequential, life.
As a consequence of football being a sport that has sped up so intrinsically, and the pressures on players having grown in step with every new penny that has flooded into the game, it is surely only a matter of time until we see a similar scene unfold here. That is not mawkish, or intended to be over dramatic. It is a horrible fact, but one that I can only hope is treated with the severity it deserves by those in charge of the game.
I am sorry for the lives of those in Bahrain who will be so ignored in the name of a race, and (although it is a different thing) I am sorry for the horses that died at Aintree. I also have a huge problem with people feeling as if they have to mourn in public the death of somebody they never knew, but I am terribly sorry to have heard about the death of a young man playing the game that apparently gave him the strength to carry on through an already sad life.
Let’s hope that it’s a very long time until we have to deal with the consequences of something similar again. Let’s hope that in Berlin we stay lucky enough not to have to see it with our own eyes.