BANGKOK: Three years after his teenage son was struck by lightning and died, Marco Petrovski has filed lawsuits against Malaysian club Melaka United and the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), claiming safety failures.
On Apr 5, 2016, Australian goalkeeper Stefan Petrovski was hit by lightning while training with Melaka United. Less than a month later, the 18-year-old passed away as a result of hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy - brain damage caused by a lack of oxygen during cardiac arrest.
His father, Marco, who met his lawyers in Kuala Lumpur last week, claims Stefan died because the Malaysia Super League club failed to provide adequate medical support and treatment.
"Melaka failed to provide comprehensive medical support and insurance coverage for Stefan," said Petrovski. "They failed to provide suitable training facilities for players at all times.
"They failed to ensure that the stadium is equipped with appropriate safety devices to protect players from lightning strikes."
"There is also a duty to treat players who have been struck by lightning for 30 minutes with CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) using a defibrillator," he added.
"Stefan died because he didn't get CPR."
Petrovksi claims Melaka United were obstructive as he searched for answers in the aftermath, denying him access to the training ground for two-and-a-half weeks. The club declined to comment on the case.
"They finally took me there but always monitoring every step that I made," he said. "I could never have access to anybody without Melaka's officials and their bodyguards being around me.
"I could never actually sit down with anyone who was on the pitch and ask what really happened."
"PROTECT YOUNG LIVES"
Petrovic said the club told him it takes 15 minutes to get from the training ground to Melaka's general hospital - a journey which he says takes "45 minutes minimum".
He also disputed the club's assertion that a physio was struck by lightning at the same time, but recovered and gave Stefan CPR.
"One thing that stuck in my head was they said that their physio had also been struck by lightning but that he had miraculously recovered and gave Stefan CPR," he said.
"The doctors on duty the day Stefan was brought in told both his mum and I that he had not received CPR."
Petrovski feels Melaka's claim that Stefan's death was an "act of God" lacks credibility, as Malaysia is known for lightning strikes, especially in the monsoon season which ends around late March.
He is taking action against FAM because he believes it did not act in the best interests of the players by granting Melaka United a licence. FAM also declined to comment when approached by AFP.
"I went to FAM's own statute for licensing and regulations," said Petrovski. "It states that clubs must provide comprehensive medical support and insurance coverage and provide suitable training facilities."
He added: "I just want justice for Stefan. I want everyone who has done nothing about it to be held accountable and I really would like to see rule changes in Southeast Asia because we need to protect young lives."