Three minutes into a playoff game in South Korea’s second-tier soccer league yesterday, Gwangju FC player Lee Seung-mo leapt into the air to challenge for a header, fell to the ground awkwardly, landed on his neck, and immediately lost consciousness. But thanks to some good fortune and the quick response of the referee and medical staff, it looks like the injury wasn’t quite as bad as first feared.
The video above, which you should know beforehand is a little tough to watch, shows Lee clattering to the ground and the referee, medics, and his Gwangju teammates immediately tending to him. The referee, Kim Hee-gon, halted the game at once and started performing CPR on Lee. (The K League requires all of its referees to undergo annual CPR training, a policy the league enacted after Shin Young-rok had a heart attack during a match in 2011.) Because of Kim’s timely interventions, Lee regained consciousness after only a couple minutes and was sent to a nearby hospital.
Upon further inspection, doctors informed Lee that he suffered a stress fracture to a vertebrae in his neck, which thankfully is a much less severe injury than it could’ve been. Gwangju posted pictures on Instagram of Lee in the hospital alongside his teammates, and you can see that he is conscious and can move his extremities.
Through the team, Lee released a statement thanking everyone for their concern and saying “I do not want to worry because it is not a big injury.” Lee is expected to be held at the hospital for two or three weeks, after which his full recovery is expected in two to three months. Gwangju went on to lose the match against Daejeon Citizen FC by a score of 0-1.