Hundreds complain about images of dying footballer

By Dominic Ponsford

Two front-page newspaper pictures of the Cameroon footballer who died after collapsing on the pitch have prompted a flurry of complaints to the Press Complaints Commission.

Marc-Vivien FoŽ, who spent last season on loan at Manchester City, collapsed while playing for Cameroon in the semi-final of the Confederations Cup in Lyon.

He is believed to have suffered a heart attack and could not be revived.

The Daily Mirror used a close-up picture of the player being stretchered off with his hand dragging on the ground. The Sun’s picture showed him lying spreadeagled on the grass with his eyes open.

The PCC has received about 200 complaints about both articles, and The Sun has received a further 100 complaints directly by e-mail.

The Mirror declined to reveal how many complaints it has received.

A PCC spokesman said: “The PCC does not arbitrate on matters of taste and decency, but this issue could come under clause five of the code which states publication in times of grief or shock must be handled sensitively.

“Only a family member could complain and there’s no suggestion at this time that they intend to do so.”

The PCC has contacted FoŽ’s agent to make itself available to his family should they need advice. It said the number of complaints was large but not unprecedented.

Sun complaints ombudsman William Newman told Press Gazette: “It was a matter for the editor, she is reponsible for what is published in the newspaper and she’s seen the letters.

“We have nine to 10 million readers so the number of complaints is not a high proportion.

“It was the editor’s decision to publish after very careful consideration bearing in mind that it had already been seen live on TV and by thousands of people in the stadium.”

The Sun has a policy of replying to every complaint individually, Newman said.

Following FoŽ’s death, the paper has launched an appeal in his honour to raise money for a football academy in his home city of Yaounde.

The FoŽ family has lent its support to the appeal, which was launched with a £10,000 donation from The Sun.

The Mirror declined to comment.

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