- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 28, 2003

PARIS (AP) — Sepp Blatter walked into a room yesterday to meet members of the family of Marc-Vivien Foe and came face to face with the dead player’s mother.

“Where is my son? What have you done?” she said, according to the president of soccer’s world governing body.

“There is nothing you can say,” Blatter recounted later in the day.

Faced with the death of the 28-year-old midfielder, who collapsed and died Thursday during a Confederations Cup semifinal against Colombia, FIFA called off all entertainment scheduled for tomorrow’s final.

The game between Cameroon and France will proceed at Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. FIFA has granted permission for Cameroon players to put Foe’s name on their uniform shirts.

“We’ll play out of respect,” Cameroon’s Rigobert Song said. “Life is hard sometimes.”

Blatter traveled to the central French town of Etrat early yesterday to meet with Foe’s family and the team. The FIFA president gave a speech at the training center before joining the players in a big circle and holding hands. Then all said silent prayers.

“You will be playing in memory of your colleague. Your and our sadness … stays in our hearts, but life goes on and so does soccer,” Blatter told the players.

“It is like I lost one of my sons,” he said later after returning to Paris.

Roger Milla, who starred for Cameroon in the 1990 World Cup, accompanied Blatter.

“He was such a lovely, charming boy, a generous boy, someone who was always giving and helping those around him,” Milla said. “We are all affected by this sadness. It is sad for us and for African football.”

FIFA said Foe was treated for diarrhea Tuesday and taken to a hospital in Saint-Etienne for blood tests.

“He assured us he was fine. He really wanted to play,” Song said. “He was a physically strong person.”

Foe, who played in all three of Cameroon’s games at both the 2002 and 1994 World Cups, fell to his knees in the 71st minute of Thursday’s game in Lyon, where the temperature was in the low 90s. He was lapsing into unconsciousness when he was carried off the field on a stretcher to the sideline, where he received treatment, including mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and oxygen.

After 45 minutes of unsuccessful attempts to revive him at the stadium first aid station, Foe was pronounced dead, FIFA said.

An initial autopsy report in Lyon found no evidence of ruptured blood vessels in his brain that could have caused a stroke. A full report likely won’t be ready until next week, the city’s public prosecutor’s office said.

FIFA said it was awaiting the results before drawing any conclusions.

“We will learn from the results and make any necessary modifications for the future,” Chuck Blazer of the United States, chairman of the Confederations Cup organizing committee, said at a news conference.

French midfielder Ludovic Giulu said images of Foe’s death would stay with him forever.

“This has spoiled the tournament. No one really wants to play this final,” he said. “The final will have a bitter, sad taste to it. People will want to cry.”

Foe was on loan to England’s Manchester City in the just-completed season. Manchester City’s chaplain led a prayer outside the team’s Maine Road stadium, and fans lined up to sign a condolence book. Club chairman John Wardle laid a wreath inside the stadium, and the team said it may retire his No.23 jersey.

“We will all miss his smile and his personality,” coach Kevin Keegan said on the team’s Web site. “He was the ultimate professional loved by everyone in the dressing room and the boardroom. We are all distraught.”

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