Ecuadoran soccer player Christian ‘Chucho’ Benitez dies at 27

July 29, 2013


Ecuador's Christian Benitez died at 27 a day after playing for Qatari football club El Jaish. The team is awaiting medical reports on the exact cause of his death. (STRINGER - Gary Granja /REUTERS)

Ecuador striker Christian “Chucho” Benitez died Monday at age 27 after suffering a cardiorespiratory arrest, according to a Ecuadoran Football Federation (FEF) statement.

The Ecuadoran Football Federation (FEF), regrets to inform the death of Ecuadorian player Cristian Benitez, a member of the Jaish SC. . .

Benitez, who was already [with] his new club in Qatar, had a severe stomach pain, [and] was rushed to a hospital, where after a few hours suffered cardio respiratory arrest, which ended his life.

“Chucho” as we knew him, was born in Quito on May 1, 1986. . .

After being champion with [Club] America, [he] was transferred to El Jaish SC which had just made its first appearance in a friendly game on Sunday.

The Ecuadoran Football Federation extends its heartfelt note of sympathy to [the] families, parents, wife, children and friends of our striker Cristian Benitez.

Ecuadoran Football Federation

Benitez had just played in a match for El Jaish a day before he died. The club released a statement mourning the sudden death of its player.

His sudden departure is a big shock for each member of the technical and administrative staff. He was a player that over the short period he was here was regarded for his high moral character.

El Jaish Sports Club

There was no information on whether the playing conditions in Qatar were a factor in his death and the team said Benitez had not complained about any health problems.

The match was played in hot and humid conditions, which are typical of the Persian Gulf at this time of year.

“The player participated for the first time with the team during yesterday’s match against Qatar Sports Club in the Sheik Jassim Cup without complaining of any health problems,” the club said, adding that it was awaiting results from a medical report that could be released later Monday.. . .

Qatar will host the 2022 World Cup and the searing temperatures have prompted many former football stars as well as FIFA President Sepp Blatter to call for the competition to be moved to the cooler, winter months. Blatter plans to ask FIFA’s executive committee later this year to move it.

Associated Press

Former teammates have expressed disbelief at the unexpected death of Benitez, who played briefly for England’s Birmingham City.

Former Republic of Ireland midfielder Lee Carsley, who was a team-mate of Benitez at Birmingham, told BBC Sport: “It’s devastating news for his family and I’m sure Birmingham City will want to pay their respects.

“I remember he had outstanding ability, was very quick and was a bit of a free spirit.

“He had a big personality and he burst on to the scene when he came on at Old Trafford [as a substitute against Manchester United in August 2009] and caused lots of problems. His ability - and goalscoring ability - was there to see.

“But he didn’t really fulfil his potential at Birmingham - it was difficult because of the way Birmingham played.

“He was a popular player in the changing room, he got a grasp of the Brummie accent quite quickly and he was popular with everyone. It is sad to lose anyone like this.”

Benitez’s former Birmingham team-mate Craig Gardner, now at Sunderland, tweeted: “Cannot believe Christian Benitez has died.”

BBC

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