Footballer, 23, placed in 'artificial coma' after catching virus

Pictured here, French football player Junior Sambia before he was rushed to hospital.
Junior Sambia was rushed to hospital where he was placed in an artificial coma. Pic: Instagram

Montpellier midfielder Junior Sambia is out of a coma and breathing on his own after being diagnosed with Covid-19, according to his agent.

The 23-year-old was admitted to hospital on Tuesday after suffering from severe gastroenteritis, which was followed by violent vomiting.

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Sambia's condition did not improve and by Thursday, he had been placed in intensive care at the Arnaud-de-Villeneuve University Hospital in Montpellier.

On Saturday though, Sambia's agent Frederic Guerra was able to provide good news when he stated his client was out of a coma and no longer on respiratory assistance.

"They stopped breathing assistance," Guerra told French radio station RTL. "The process is long, but he is no longer in a coma. We are probably going towards good news."

Guerra said that Sambia originally tested negative for Covid-19 but a subsequent test days later revealed the Montpellier player did in fact have the virus.

"It is tough. He really respected confinement. He did everything well. He must have contracted the virus while shopping," Guerra told Le Parisien on Friday.

"He suffered three days of severe diarrhoea - like gastroenteritis. Then, on Tuesday morning, he went to the hospital.

"I reached him when he was on an IV. He had just received the Covid-19 test result. This one was negative. He was due to leave on Wednesday, then his condition worsened with his lungs.

"It grew more complicated in transit. He went back to the same hospital, then he changed hospitals twice before being placed in an artificial coma."

Sambia is the first known Ligue 1 player to test positive for the coronavirus. Last month Suk Hyun-jun, who plays for Ligue 2 side Troyes, became the first professional footballer in France to test positive and has since recovered.

Sambia has played 22 times in all competitions for La Paillade this season, scoring one goal and providing one assist.

German league warned over ‘playing behind closed doors’ plan

Ligue 1 has been suspended since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The French Professional Football League (LFP) has since outlined plans to complete the 2019-20 season behind closed doors, with the 2020-21 season to begin in late August if all goes according to plan.

Meantime, Germany’s Bundesliga has been warned that playing games behind closed doors could pose a public-health risk because fans will gather in front of stadiums.

The German football authorities are looking for a way to resume the 2019-20 campaign despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Bundesliga games could be underway again as early as mid-May, according to reports, though they will have to be played in empty stadiums for the time being.

But Jorg Radek, deputy chairman of the German Police Trade Union, says authorities are wrong to believe that banning supporters in the stands is enough to ensure public safety.

"Maybe it is possible to control what is happening in the stadium. This does not apply to the public space in front of it. The stadiums become a potential target for fans who want to support their team," Radek told Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

"That would be devastating. We can't have large crowds outside the stadium gates. It's not only forbidden, it would be irresponsible.

"It becomes relevant to the police at that moment, we then have to ensure that the requirements that currently apply to behavior in public space are complied with: the requirement of a distance of one and a half meters, the ban on the assembly of large groups, the wearing of masks.

"We will have to intervene in terms of maintaining security and order if this is not guaranteed.

"I want to state that we as a police union are not fundamentally against football games.

"I can also understand that there is a need for many people to stop watching old international matches or old Bundesliga games, but we must not forget what special situation we are all in - this includes the police.

"Games behind closed doors are a danger, even if the organiser does everything in the stadium to ensure that hygiene regulations are observed in order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible.

"It's a good right for the DFL to work out a plan to start again, but it doesn't seem to take all aspects into account."