A memorial was held on Tuesday for former Newcastle United player Cheick Tiote, who died at the age of 30 after a collapse during training for his Chinese club on June 5th. Friends, family and former teammates attended the ceremony in China and gave their condolences to those closely linked to the man in a coffin draped in the Ivory Coast flag. Papiss Cisse, a Senegalese striker who spent four years with Tiote in Newcastle, led the eulogies at the ceremony. “He was like a brother. We shared a lot in life. His family was my family,” Cisse said as he struggled to fight through tears. Tiote’s body will now be flown back to the Ivory Coast, where a private funeral will take place before he is laid to rest.
Later, Tiote’s agent, Emanuele Palladino, urged people after the memorial service to stop speculating over the cause of death for the Ivorian defender. The investigation is still ongoing into the confirmation of how exactly Tiote died. “This has been upsetting for Cheick’s family and all parties involved at what is already a difficult time… Until then we cannot comment further,” stated Palladino.
Palladino had to put this statement out after even high-profile footballers began wondering aloud what responsibility the Chinese club bears for the death of Tiote. For example, former Newcastle United and Manchester United striker Andrew Cole posited on a BBC radio show, “It’s a strange one. Cheick Tiote hadn’t been in China that long — a few months — so he must have had a medical to complete the transfer. Was nothing picked up in that medical?” Cole later talked about how Chinese clubs feel so comfortable paying such high transfer fees if their physical exams weren’t accurate enough to detect a condition for Tiote.