| Players and staff of the Cameroon team pay their respects to Marc-Vivien Foe at the Amadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde Sunday. (AFP)
Lyon: Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe’s death was caused by a heart condition, and not drugs, France’s state prosecutor announced at a press conference here Monday.
“He died from natural causes,” Xavier Richaud confirmed.
The 28-year-old collapsed and died playing in the Confederations Cup semi-final against Colombia in Lyon.
A post mortem last Friday and further blood and urine tests conducted by an International Olympic Committee-sanctioned Swiss laboratory in Switzerland revealed “the complete absence” of drugs, Richaud confirmed.
He said Foe was probably suffering from a congenital heart condition.
“He was suffering from a cardiomyopathy hypertrophia (abnormally enlarged) left ventricle, something that is untraceable without an extensive examination.”
The prosecutor suggested the heart problem was probably caused by intense activity and the malformed ventricle a result of “the overall effect of physical activity over time.
“There was a degeneration which triggered a major reaction in the heart,” he added.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people jammed the streets of Cameroon’s capital on Monday for Foe’s burial with full national honours.
Some climbed on roofs or up trees to get a view of the coffin as it was borne through Yaounde. Many wore copies of his number 17 shirt.
“He fought like a real lion, sought perfection, and loved his game, and whatever he earned he shared with all,” said Bishop Joseph Akounga Essomba in his tribute during a nearly three-hour requiem mass.
Sepp Blatter, president of Fifa, joined Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and other important figures from the central African country for the mass.
Work came to a standstill as the presidential guard fought back crowds trying to get a closer peep.
Before Foe was lowered into the ground, he was knighted as a Commander of the Order of National Valour. As the family threw handfuls of soil onto the coffin, an outburst of wailing swept back from the graveside.
Foe was known for his generosity as well as his skills on the pitch, and his death came as a particular blow to those he had helped.
“For three years he is the one who paid my boarding fees and met my needs. Now he is gone. What shall I become'” asked 14-year-old Paul Nlib Njab at a centre for the handicapped.
Last evening, 100,000 people had paid their respects in the Yaounde football stadium where the coffin of the footballer was laid open for the public.
Foe leaves behind a wife and three children, the youngest just two months old.