June 14, 2021 8:47:46 am
After a night of distress, there’s relief. The Danish Football Association has informed that Christian Eriksen, who collapsed at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen shortly before half-time during the Group B Euros fixture against Finland on Saturday, is stable and talking.
The Danish FA, DBU, put out a statement on Sunday morning that Eriksen is still in hospital undergoing tests. However, doctors haven’t yet revealed exactly what happened to the 29-year-old Inter Milan midfielder. “This morning we have spoken to Christian Eriksen, who has sent his greetings to his teammates. His condition is stable, and he continues to be hospitalised for further examination,” said the statement.
It added: “The team and staff of the national team has received crisis assistance and will continue to be there for each other after yesterday’s incident.”
Following the incident, the match was suspended. When it resumed after nearly an hour and 47 minutes of stoppage, Finland beat Denmark by a solitary goal. By then, though, the game and its result became incidental. As Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet wrote: “Denmark lost, life won.”
The big distress
With about four minutes and added time to be played in the first half, Eriksen collapsed on the pitch as he went to control a throw-in. Denmark captain Simon Kjaer and his teammates were first on the scene before the medics took over. Players from both teams looked to be in visible distress. Denmark head coach Kasper Hjulmand was seen kneeling down and offering a prayer. In the stands, teary-eyed fans stood perplexed.
Like all Premier League match officials, English referee Anthony Taylor has had his share of criticism from fans, depending on their club allegiance. But on Saturday in Copenhagen, his promptness was hailed by everybody.
As Eriksen fell to the floor, Taylor immediately stopped play and signalled the medics to rush in. “The thing that saved his life was very urgent and rapid medical attention,” sports cardiologist Professor Sanjay Sharma, chairman of the expert cardiology consensus panel for the Football Association, told the BBC.
Kjaer was one of the first players to attend Eriksen, apparently trying to clear his teammate’s airways. Then, the Denmark captain, along with goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, was seen comforting Eriksen’s partner, Sabrina Kvist, who was reduced to tears near the touchline. After the player was taken to hospital, fans serenaded the stadium with ‘Christian Eriksen’ chants. The Finns shouted, ‘Christian’. The Danes responded with ‘Eriksen’.
On the pitch, with the Denmark footballers forming a protective shield around Eriksen, the player was given CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and electric current shocks (defibrillation) as per a Sky Sports report. Defibrillation is used to treat life-threatening conditions that affect the rhythm of the heart. The process involves the delivery of an electric current shock to the heart that causes depolarisation of the heart muscles.
Eventually, Eriksen was stretchered off and taken to hospital. As Sky Sports mentioned, pictures taken by AFP photographer Friedemann Vogel showed that the player was being taken off the pitch on a stretcher, with his eyes open and head up. About an hour later, the Denmark football team’s official account tweeted that Eriksen was awake.
Denmark team doctor Martin Boesen spoke at the post-match press conference and gave the lowdown on how things unfolded on the pitch. “It was clear he was unconscious. When I got to him he was on his side, he was breathing, I could feel a pulse, but suddenly that changed and we started to give him CPR,” Boesen said, as quoted by the BBC.
“The help came really fast from the medical team and the rest of the staff with their co-operation, and we did what we had to do and managed to get Christian back. He spoke to me before he was taken to hospital,” the doctor added.
The governing body of European football and the Euros organiser, Uefa, decided to complete the Denmark-Finland game. “Following the request made by players of both teams, UEFA has agreed to restart the match between Denmark and Finland tonight at 20:30 CET (12 midnight IST),” Uefa tweeted from its official handle.
Hjulmand was asked about that at the post-match presser. “The players couldn’t imagine not being able to sleep tonight and to have to go on a bus tomorrow and play again. It was easier to go out and it was best to get it over with,” said the Denmark coach, adding: “You can’t play a game with such feelings. We tried to win. It was incredible they managed to go out and try to play the second half.”
Dr Nisreen Alwan, Associate Professor, public health and epidemiology, at the University of Southampton, however, tore into Uefa’s decision to resume the match on Saturday night. “#UEFA I’m really astonished at the decision to resume Denmark-Finland (with flag emojis) game tonight. How on earth were players expected to perform well after that traumatic experience watching their mate between life & death? Caring about mental health shouldn’t be slogans, it should be action,” she tweeted.
The Muamba throwback
The Eriksen incident offered a throwback to former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Fabrice Muamba‘s on-pitch collapse at White Hart Lane during an FA Cup fixture against Tottenham Hotspur in March 2012. Muamba had suffered a cardiac arrest and returned from the jaws of death, but never played again.
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