On Saturday night, 20-year-old South Australia footballer Antonio Loiacono passed away after he suffered a critical injury during the final quarter of a match.
An unnamed family member of Loiacono told The Advertiser that the Birdwood footballer was “knocked out cold” by an on-field collision which caused Antonio’s heart to stop for 30 minutes.
Loiacono was air lifted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital before 8pm on Saturday night but unfortunately, the young gun footballer tragically passed away the following day.
Antonio’s brother Jack Loiacono posted a tribute to his late brother on his Facebook alongside some beautiful memories the pair had shared.
“Antonio, my other half, my best friend and the person I look up to most. Words can’t describe the pain we all feel you’re loved by so many,” Jack wrote.
The Hills Football League also posted a statement on Monday morning in regards to Antonio and his family.
“It is difficult to find the words that express the immense shock, sorrow and heartache that the Hills Football Community is feeling today,” the Facebook posts reads. “On behalf of the HFL Board of Directors, we express our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Antonio Loiacono who passed away on Sunday evening,” the AFL league added.
Antonio’s tragic passing comes in the wake of several high-profile ex-AFL players suing their former clubs and the Australian Football League over concussion injuries.
Last week, Gary Ablett Sr launched legal proceedings in the Victorian Supreme Court against the AFL, Geelong Football Club and Hawthorn Football Club.
Former Western Bulldogs star Liam Picken also kicked off legal action against the AFL earlier this year. He was forced to retire from the game in 2019 due to ongoing concussion symptoms.
Just like these high-profile cases, the unnamed family member of Antonio told The Advertiser that the young footballer had suffered “too many” concussions because of AFL.
Although there has been a lot of discussion on tackling in AFL, including a tackling crackdown, North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson said that the changes are an “enormous dilemma” for the game.
Just last week, Clarkson said that players could soon be prohibited from pinning their opponent’s arms in tackles altogether due to the risk of injury.
“It’s a difficult one for the game as they’ve got these issues around concussion that they obviously need to be very, very mindful of,” the North Melbourne coach told the Australian Associated Press.
Antonio’s passing is truly tragic, and although tackling is a major part of AFL and many other games such as NRL, it is important that referees, players, coaches and every one else are aware of the dangers that come with it.
Hopefully more action is made to make the games safer for its players.