Why Has a Manslaughter Investigation Been Opened Following the Death of Davide Astori?

An investigation into possible manslaughter has been opened following the death of Italian international footballer Davide Astori, according to the prosecutor of Udine, but is believed to be normal procedure.

Astori, the 31-year-old center-back who played for and captained Fiorentina, died on Sunday (March 4) with his club announcing it as a "sudden illness."

Antonio De Nicolo, the prosecutor, had said that the defender died from natural causes but then told Radio Rai a police investigation had been opened. The investigation is believed to be normal procedure.

"We have opened criminal proceeding over the hypothesis of manslaughter," De Nicolo said. "For now, it's been brought against unknown persons. We've arranged an autopsy, which will be performed on Tuesday."

De Nicolo described it as "a necessary act" in order to allow the autopsy to take place. This will then ascertain whether a crime has been committed. De Nicolo provided a hypothetical example of "someone gave him something."

Astori died on Sunday in Udine ahead of Fiorentina's game against Udinese, which was postponed, as were all games in Serie A.

Davide Astori
Davide Astori at Italy's training ground in Florence, Italy, November 6. Fiorentina captain Astori died on Sunday (March 4). Claudio Villa/Getty

Astori represented Italy 14 times between 2011 and 2017, and spent the majority of his career playing for Cagliari.

Four of his caps for the national team came during Antonio Conte's reign. The Chelsea manager paid tribute to Astori ahead of his team's defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.

"This is a tragedy and it really hurts me. It's very difficult at this moment to find the right words for the family," Conte said.

"He was a great player but especially a fantastic guy. I stay close to his wife, parents and daughter. He was only 31 and it's very difficult to explain this situation."

Astori developed through the AC Milan academy before joining Cagliari in 2008. He spent eight years at the club as well as loan spells with Roma and Fiorentina, before joining the latter permanently.