List of People Who Died of Shock While Watching Football

Last updated on February 15th, 2024 at 07:15 pm


Five Nigerians died from shock during the semifinal match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Bafana Bafana of South Africa at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). This validates the research by Professor Diederick Grobbee and his team in 2000 that “Watching Football can kill you.”

Super Eagles Promise To Win 2023 AFCON For The Lost Souls


We’ve heard stories of players who died on the pitch. One that will forever remain in the memory of Nigerians occurred on August 12, 1989, when Samuel Okwaraji collapsed and died in Lagos while playing against Angola in a World Cup Qualifier. Since then, Nigeria has recorded at least eight other players who died on the pitch.


But we’re now seeing a shift from the players to their supporters or fans, especially during the AFCON 2023 in Côte d’Ivoire, which was won by the host.

At least five supporters of Nigeria’s national team died while rooting for the Super Eagles. They are:

1) Cairo Ojougboh:

  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Date: February 7, 2024
  • Location of death: FCT, Abuja

While Nigerians were still celebrating their victory over the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, news broke about the death of Cairo Ojougboh, who slumped and died after the South African side scored their penalty awarded against Super Eagles at 90 minutes of the match on February 7, 2024.

Super Eagles of Nigeria vs Bafana Bafana of South Africa during semi-final encounter at the 2023 AFCON in Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire (07/02/2024). Nigeria won the game 4-2 on penalties. Photo: @NGSuperEagles on X

He didn’t live to watch his country beat the South African side. Super Eagles at the end qualified for the finals after 4-2 penalty kicks against the Bafana Bafana.

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He was a member of the House of Representatives between 2003 to 2007, representing Ika Federal Constituency of Delta State.

The late politician was a former Presidential Adviser on National Assembly Matters to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

“The incident happened when the penalty was awarded against Nigeria. Dr Ojougboh was said to have shouted and slumped due to a massive heart attack when SA scored,” The Punch quoted a family source as saying.

2) Peter Yunana

  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Date: February 7, 2024
  • Location: Numan, Adamawa

In Adamawa State, a National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) member serving identified as Peter Yunana also slumped and gave up the ghost while watching Nigeria’s Super Eagles vs. South Africa.

“According to his colleagues who went with him to watch the match, the late corps member told them that he doesn’t like watching penalty shootout, he then bowed his head and all of a sudden he collapsed,” Adamawa NYSC Coordinator, Mr. Jingi Dennis confirmed his death, saying “He was confirmed dead at the General Hospital by the doctor,” Nigeria Tribune reported.

3) Mikail Osundiji

  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Date: February 7, 2024
  • Location: Abeokuta, Ogun State

Similarly, 43-year-old Mikail Osundiji collapsed at a popular viewing center in Olomoore, Abeokuta, Ogun State, after the Egyptian referee Amin Omar canceled Victor Osimhen’s second goal against the resilient South African side.

Osundiji, who hailed from Okuku, Osun State, was a sales representative with a multinational until his death, which was caused by shock during the Super Eagles’ heated encounter with Bafana Bafana.

Eye witness report says the deceased breathed heavily after the second goal was cancelled, “lowered his head and consequently fell to the ground at the viewing center.”

A family member says he has been buried according to Islamic injunctions at his home town on Thursday.

The three deaths recorded so far are men, attesting to research that watching football could be injurious to persons who have cardiovascular-related ailments.

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4) Ayuba Olaitan Abdullahi

  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Date: February 7, 2024
  • Location of death: Ilorin, Kwara State

In Ilorin, North Central geopolitical zone, a Deputy Bursar at the Kwara State University, Malete, Alhaji Ayuba Abdullahi, also developed acute blood pressure while watching the semi-final match between Nigeria and South Africa.

The Deputy Bursar of Kwara State University, Ayuba Abdullahi, collapsed and died while watching the 2023 AFCON semi finals between Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana. Photo credit: Sahara Reporters

When it was time for the penalty kicks, “He complained that he was feeling dizzy, so he said he needed to go back home and rest, not knowing that his BP had gone up,” a source said.

He collapsed on getting home and was pronounced dead when he was rushed to the hospital.

A statement by the university’s management has also confirmed his death early Thursday morning and has been buried according to Islamic rites.

5) Osondu Nwoye

  • Nationality: Nigeria
  • Date: February 7, 2024
  • Location of death: Stade de la Paix in Bouake, Ivory Coast

While other deaths recorded so far happened on Nigerian soil, Anambra-born chief and business tycoon Osondu Nwoye flew to Ivory Coast to watch the semi-finals encounter, but the cancellation of Super Eagles second goal launched a devastating attack on his heart.

According to a Facebook post by Chukwudi Iwuchukwu, “Maybe the shock of seeing the goal cancelled and penalty awarded to South Africa was too much to bear for his fragile heart, which failed immediately, which resulted in the High Chief collapsing inside the stadium.”

Chief Nwoye, who hails from Amanuike community was pronounced dead at the hospital.

You May Die While Watching Football – Researchers

On December 22, 2000, a team of researchers led by Professor Diederick from the University Medical Centre in Utrecht, Netherlands, reported that watching football can be fatal when one is overexcited.

They also attributed deaths during football matches to excessive alcohol intake, overeating, and excessive smoking.

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Their research followed the unusual death rate that was recorded on the day the Dutch national team was knocked out on June 22, 1996, during the European Championship, which was held in England.

It was discovered that men recorded more incidents which they attributed to heart attacks and strokes during the Netherlands vs France match which ended in penalty and favour of France.

They wrote in the British Medical Journal that, “important sporting events may provoke a sufficient level of stress to trigger symptomatic cardiovascular disease. The difference between men and women requires further investigation,” Daily Mail UK reported.

The similarity between the Netherlands/France match and Nigeria/SA match

Similar to the Netherlands vs France Match that ended in 0-0 draw, the Nigeria vs South Africa match ended 1-1 after extra time.

Just like France, Nigeria won on penalties. However, while 41 supporters of the losing team (Dutch) dropped dead in 1996, there were only three recorded casualties on the side of Nigeria, the victorious team that qualified for the finals.

Professor Grobbee’s team reported that in men, “deaths from heart attacks and strokes rose significantly on the day of the game compared with the five days on either side.”

Researchers say unusual mental or emotional stress and high alcohol consumption could trigger heart attacks and hypertension.

A report by researchers at University of Edinburgh says there were more than 28 million cases of hypertension in Nigeria in 2020, rising from four million in 1995, saying one out of three Nigerians is at risk of high BP.

Hypertension is defined as having a blood pressure reading above 140/90, and it is considered severe if the pressure exceeds 180/120.

Also, some sports enthusiasts in the country have mentioned that bettors may experience high blood pressure when their favorite team is not leading, especially if they feel that their team might lose the match.


For sports enthusiasts who may experience high blood pressure during a match, physicians recommend taking aspirin or heart medication as part of their warm-up routine before important football matches.

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