Italy international and Fiorentina captain, Davide Astori died in his sleep on Saturday 4th March, suspected to be due to a form of cardiac arrest. He has a family history of heart problems and doctors suspect it to be due to bradyarrhythmia, a slow heart rate.
Astori was capped 14 times by Italy, and has had a very successful career, starting off at AC Milan academy, before making his name at Cagliari working under Allegri to help them finish a record 9th place in the Serie A. While at Cagliari he caught the eyes of Fiorentina, who took him on for a season-long loan; impressing there with his attentive and leadership skills, he earned himself a permanent move to the beautiful city of Florence. During his time at Fiorentina, his performances continued and he was made club captain.
It was in Udine, before his match against Udinese on Sunday, where he was found dead in a hotel room. Out of respect, all games in the Serie A on Sunday were cancelled. Both Cagliari and Fiorentina have retired the number 13 shirt, a memory to the impact he had on both of these teams. Footballers from around the world paid their respects through social media, with the likes of Buffon, Conte, and even Pochettino saying what a lovely man he was, not only in reference to football but also in day to day life.
For what has been such a sad week, it has been disappointing to see that some media outlets have used this tragedy to make a profit through releasing click-baiting and fake-news articles. Originally starting with Troll Football India, on Facebook, before moving onto @Sporf and @futballtweets, an influx of false reports that Fiorentina’s club president Andrea Della Valle had decided to extend Astori’s contract and pay it to his family.
For this decision to be made so soon after his death, before the funeral had even been arranged, would have been extremely unusual even though it would have been a touching gesture. The reports and the ‘journalists’ writing them had no connection with the football club, and, inevitably, proved to be erroneous.
This type of behaviour is not too surprising coming from self-defined ‘banterous’ social media accounts, however, the story was picked up by major news outlets such as The Sun and MailOnline. The Sun wrote “TOUCHING TRIBUTE Davide Astori to have his new four-year contract honoured by Fiorentina – with wages paid to wife and daughter,” while the MailOnline also joined in with “Fiorentina to renew Davide Astori’s contract to support the family of club’s late captain.”
This, in turn, forced Fiorentina, on Tuesday, having to state that no plans had yet been made about Astori’s contract, as they were still in mourning. The fact that two of the biggest news networks in the UK did not fact check these stories is extremely shameful and shows gross journalistic negligence.
A minute silence will be completed before games across Europe this week, and with Serie A games still awaiting rescheduling, you can certainly see the impact this has made on the game. Of course, all thoughts should still be with the family at this time.
By Owen Ellicott