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Qatar club confirms Ecuador's Benitez died of heart failure

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The Canadian Press
7/31/2013 10:34:11 AM
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DOHA, Qatar -- Ecuador striker Christian Benitez died of heart failure, according to his Qatari club El Jaish on Wednesday, without adding further details.

The 27-year-old striker died on Monday, a day after playing his first match for his new club.

"The official medical reports were issued by official state entities and stated that the sudden death was caused by heart failure," the club said in a statement. The club added that his body will be repatriated on a private plane.

On Tuesday, Ecuador football federation president Luis Chiriboga said the 27-year-old Benitez had been taken to the hospital with sharp stomach pains, developed peritonitis and died of cardiorespiratory arrest.

Benitez's body is expected to be flown back to Ecuador on Thursday following a ceremony that will include family members at Doha airport. The plane is set to leave Qatar for Ecuador at 2300 GMT, Ecuador politician Ricardo Patino tweeted. The flight should take about 18 hours.

A funeral was planned for Thursday in Quito, along with separate tributes to the player.

Anibal Fuentes, head of the provincial sports authority for Quito, told Radio Sonorama that "the coffin will make a stop at the Casa de la Seleccion (the national team training centre) for a small ceremony, and will then be transported to the General Ruminahui coliseum" sports arena, which has been set up to receive the family and thousands of fans.

Benitez was a powerful striker who helped former club America to win the Mexican championship last season. The father of three, who also played for Birmingham, scored 24 goals in 58 appearances for Ecuador and was on the country's World Cup team in 2006.

Christian Benitez (Photo: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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