Medics struggled to open a jammed ambulance door while a badly hurt footballer lay on the pitch for nearly five minutes during a Chinese Super League (CSL) match.
The incident occurred in Saturday evening's game between Changchun Yatai and Guangzhou Evergrande. Yatai midfielder Wang Shouting was knocked out seconds after kick-off, when Evergrande's Liyu accidentally hit him in the face as they jumped for the ball.
Changchun Yatai's Wang Shouting got munched in the first ten seconds of their game against Guangzhou Evergrande and needed the medics... pic.twitter.com/ZLZpWKG7fB— Jonathan White (@jmawhite) 13 August 2018
Medical staff from both sides rushed to help the 32-year-old.
As anxiety among players and officials grew, an ambulance and a stretcher were brought to take Wang off the field for further treatment.
The Chinese footballer had apparently swallowed his tongue.
He was left for almost five minutes on the pitch as paramedics struggled to open the back door of the ambulance.
After a while, the door was successfully unlocked and the midfielder – by now conscious and on a stretcher - was immediately rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
The match eventually continued, ending in a 3-2 victory for home side Yatai thanks to an injury-time stunner by forward Tan Long, who also scored an equaliser in the 84th minute.
but it became a farce when they could not open the ambulance doors. pic.twitter.com/l836XrOrGm— Jonathan White (@jmawhite) 13 August 2018
Immediately after the incident, media and fans launched an online bombardment against the CSL.
Several considered that his event – as well as last week's racial-abuse controversy - tarnished the image of a league studded with world-class players and coaches.
Italian football legend and Evergrande head coach Fabio Cannavaro was among those angered by Saturday's incident.
"The life of the players can't be ignored," the Italian 2006 World Cup winner was quoted as saying by local newspaper the Information Times.
"During an emergency situation, there is no waiting time of several minutes.
"Ambulance and first-aid equipment must be on standby at all times and the problem of the door that can't be opened should not be ignored."
Wang Shouting fainted following a challenge in the match between Changchun Yatai and Guangzhou Evergrande last Saturday. It takes Changchun staff 5'40'' to drive the ambulance to the spot, open the trunk and take the fainted player into the cabin. CFA is investigating this. pic.twitter.com/HHne0imfca— Titan Sports Plus (@titan_plus) 13 August 2018
Thankfully, Wang was not seriously injured and he was out of danger shortly after his arrival at the hospital.
Saturday's incident could have been much much worse.