Ivory Coast footballer Moustapha Sylla, 21, has died after collapsing during a domestic league game on Sunday, with Chelsea legend Didier Drogba subsequently demanding that more must be done to protect the country’s footballers.
Sylla, who represented 2020 domestic champions Racing Club d’Abidjan, fell to the turf at the Stade Robert Champroux during matchday 20 of the domestic season, and was pronounced dead at hospital after being transported by paramedics.
“The player collapsed during a Ligue 1 championship match, where his club — Racing Club d’Abidjan — were facing Sol FC d’Abodo.” former Ivory Coast Football Federation vice-president Sory Diabate told ESPN.
“He gave up his spirit after being transferred to the hospital.”
In a video of the incident, Sylla appeared to stumble before losing his balance and falling to the ground motionless, prompting opposition players to signal to the referee to halt the contest.
“The club’s management address sincere condolences to his biological family,” read a statement published by his club. “Rest in peace Moustapha, rest in peace lion.”
Neither the club nor the federation gave a cause of death.
Reacting to Sylla’s death on Monday, former Ivory Coast striker and FIFA presidential hopeful Drogba called for more action to be done to protect the country’s players.
“Condolences to Ivorian football,” wrote Drogba, whose international teammate Cheick Tiote died following a cardiac arrest during training in 2017. “Three deaths of Ivorian professional league players in less than four years.
“Where are the compulsory medical visits for each professional’ player? The blood tests, the ECGs, the stress tests? When will sports medicine arrive?”
Ivory Coast centre-back Simon Deli, currently playing with Turkish side Adana Demirspor, also acknowledged the passing of the young defender.
“Rest in peace, soldier,” he posted on social media, with a photograph of the 21-year-old, while the Ivorian Federation offered its “saddest condolences to the family, as well as players and management of RCA, during these moments of pain and emotion.”
Left-back Sylla was previously on the books of Malian giants Djoliba AC, with whom he won the domestic title in 2022, before returning to his homeland with RCA in September.