Soccer Net Death Sparks Recall, Months Later

Goal Recall

  • Product Names: MacGregor Folding Soccer Goal; Mitre Folding Soccer Goal
  • How many on the market: About 190,000
  • The MacGregor's model number, 97236, is printed on the assembly instructions. Its UPC code, 029807972365, is printed on the net's packaging.
  • The Mitre soccer goal is model number 89186, printed on the assembly instructions; UPC code number: 029807891864.
  • Nets manufactured after April 2007 with 4 inch-by-4 inch square openings are not included in the recall.

A type of foldable soccer goal is being recalled after its maker, Regent Sports Corp., received reports of young children getting caught in the net. In one case, a toddler died after getting his head tangled.

The voluntary recall was expected to be announced by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. It affects goals sold under the MacGregor and Mitre brand names that have nets with a 5-inch grid; those with a 4-inch grid are not included in the recall.

Last year in Texas, a 21-month-old boy tried to climb on one of the MacGregor nets from the back of the goal. He fell through the mesh, and the polyethylene cord contracted around his neck.

The toddler was in a fenced-in treeless backyard that contained only the soccer goal and carpet grass. By the time the mother realized what had happened, the cord around his neck was so tight, she was unable to pull his head back through.

She sent another child back into the house for a pair of scissors while she held her dying son's head, her hands straining at the cord.

"The opening that these nylon mesh nets have is simply too big," said Scott Wolfson of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "There needs to be a 4-inch space, but there's a 5-inch space."

When it is assembled, the MacGregor goal measures 6 feet by 3 feet. The Mitre goal is 8 feet wide by 6 feet high.

Since May 2002, the goals have been sold at sports and toy stores nationwide, as well as at Wal-Mart and Ace Hardware. Prices were commonly quoted between $26 and $45.

The difference in cost between making a goal with the deadly 5-inch mesh and a goal made with the smaller, safer mesh is estimated at less than 20 cents of polyethylene cord.

The distributor, Regent Sports Corp., is based in Hauppauge, N.Y. The goals were manufactured in China.

Consumers who own the goals should return the net to Regent Sports for a replacement, the CPSC said.

Regent Sports did not return repeated phone calls. Wal-Mart would only say that they began to remove the product from their shelves in July and August. Ace Hardware did not respond to NPR's request for an interview.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has come under fierce criticism by some members of Congress for lax regulation of Chinese toys. The agency's acting chairwoman, Nancy Nord, refused calls for her resignation after she lobbied Congress to not increase the agency's budget in the wake of Chinese toy recalls.

But Pamela Gilbert, the commission's executive director during the Clinton administration, says the manufacturer and retailers should be ashamed of themselves, for continuing to sell a product for so many months after learning it could strangle American children.

"When they know about a hazard in their product, by law, and also morally, they are responsible for acting on those products' dangers," Gilbert said.

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