It’s truly a sad day for Croatian soccer.
Twenty-four year old Hrvoje Custic, a winger playing for first division squad NK Zadar, slid off the pitch going after a ball during Saturday’s 1-0 win over HNK Cibalia. Unfortunately, there was a concrete wall only two meters from the out of bounds line which Custic’s head slammed into.
Doctors performed immediate emergency surgery on Custic, but five days later he has passed away due to the brain injury caused when he collided with the concrete wall.
Custic is not the first player to die as a result of something that happened on the pitch, but the vast majority of players’ deaths related to soccer are heart attacks or caused by other congenital disorders. Custic’s death is one of the first preventable deaths to occur in several years that I am aware of.
This raises an interesting issue: what the hell were they doing playing on a field with a concrete wall that close to the pitch?
I am not saying that American soccer stadiums are flush with saftey features and that Croatian stadiums are not, but someone had to realize it would only be a matter of time before a tragedy such as the one that befell Custic occurred.
The problem lies in the fact that those that own the teams want to create as much seating as possible in order to increase profits. This results in cramped playing spaces without the proper space between the pitch and the stands.