Watching WC may damage your health, warn experts

Paris, May 17:

Health experts are sounding a cautionary note about the World Cup finals, saying that some matches could be quite literally heart-stopping. Cardiac arrests, drunk-driving, fan violence, wife-beating, binge boozing, smoking, gorging on fatty snacks with no exercise, even suicide — all of these phenomena surge during the world’s most-watched sporting contest.

In the 1998 World Cup, the number of heart attacks in Britain rose by 25 per cent when England lost to Argentina in a penalty shootout, according to a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Compared with admissions for the same day in previous years, 55 more people were treated for a heart stoppage, say the University of Birmingham researchers. They suggest in all seriousness that it might be advisable “on public health grounds” to scrap shootouts altogether.

Another study, carried out in the Netherlands, found there were an extra 14 male deaths,

an increase of 50 per cent, on the day when the Dutch team were knocked out of the European championships by France in 1996. Depression, violence and self-harm are also well-known outcomes of football matches and they peak during World Cup, especially as

the competition heads towards its climactic stages.