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- BBC apologises for showing distressing images on live TV
- Sam Wallace: How a night of horror and hope unfolded
- Oliver Brown: Simon Kjaer and his team-mates’ protective shield was team spirit at its most stirring
Christian Eriksen remains in a stable condition in hospital after collapsing on the field during Denmark’s European Championship match against Finland.
Eriksen, the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, was given CPR treatment by medical staff before being taken to the Rigshospitalet hospital in Copenhagen. He is awake, with the Denmark Football Association confirming this morning that representatives from the governing body had spoken to him.
“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.”
The Danish FA also confirmed that Eriksen’s team-mates have received specialist help to come to terms with the shocking incident, which took place towards the end of the first half of Saturday’s opening Group B match.
The statement 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.
“We would like to thank everyone for the heartfelt greetings to Christian Eriksen from fans, players, the Royal Families from both Denmark and England, international associations, clubs etc.
“We encourage everyone to send their greetings to the Danish FA, where we will make sure they are all passed on to Christian and his family.”
The Denmark-Finland game, which had kicked off at 5pm, was stopped after 41 minutes. It restarted at 7.30pm, with the Danish Football Union saying Denmark’s players chose to play on after speaking to Eriksen.
Head coach Kasper Hjulmand was in tears after the game, which his side went on to lose 1-0.
He said: “It was a really tough evening, on which we’ve all been reminded what the most important things in life are. It’s meaningful relationships.
“It’s those people who are close to us. It’s family and friends. Everything, everything, everything – all thoughts are with Christian and his family.”
Tearful team-mates had earlier watched on in shock as Eriksen lay on the pitch before forming a ring around the player. The 29-year-old’s partner, Sabrina, was in clear distress as she was comforted on the field by Denmark captain Simon Kjaer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
The sickening incident occurred three minutes before the end of the first half. Eriksen fell to the floor as he ran to control the ball from a throw-in, with no players near him.
Team-mates Martin Braithwaite and Thomas Delaney rushed to assist. Delaney beckoned furiously for medical assistance.
English referee Anthony Taylor summoned medical staff and Eriksen received attention on the pitch for around 10 minutes.
Television cameras panned away as the Inter Milan player received further medical attention, with the Parken Stadium falling silent. Officials at the stadium held up two white sheets to ensure supporters could not see Eriksen being treated.
The BBC was screening the game and halted the scheduled show shortly after 6pm. It later apologised after being criticised for not cutting away from the scenes sooner than it did.
“We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast,” the corporation said.
“In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.”
Match of the Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker also posted on Twitter: “I understand some of you would have been upset with some of the images shown (we were too). Obviously these were the host pictures and out of our control. They should have stayed on a wide of the stadium. Apologies.”
To the surprise of many, the game resumed after players from both sides requested it be finished.
The harrowing scenes evoked memories of Fabrice Muamba, the former Bolton Wanderers and Birmingham midfielder, who suffered a cardiac arrest in an FA Cup tie against Tottenham nine years ago. Muamba’s heart stopped beating for 78 minutes. He retired five months later. On Saturday night, before reports emerged that Eriksen was safe, Muamba tweeted “Please God” in reference to him.
Finland’s historic victory pales into insignificance
By Tom Morgan
A sporting irrelevance but a three-and-a-half hour marvel of human endurance for Denmark’s stricken players who somehow completed a match they will never want to think about again.
“Moments like this put everything in life into perspective,” said Uefa President Aleksander Čeferin shortly after Eriksen’s on-field collapse at 5.42pm.
Yet an hour and 45 minutes later, with the sun now setting on Copenhagen’s Parken, the players were back. Nothing about it was normal as Finland’s players applauded Denmark’s back onto the pitch, with Mathias Jensen coming on for Eriksen. Schmeichel embraced every teammate before they kicked off again.
He looked like a man who most needed a hug most of all, and there would have been a lengthy queue of volunteers after the strain took its toll in the 59th minute when a normally catchable Joel Pohjanpalo header squirmed through his grasp.
Denmark’s decision to carry on, agreed in the changing room after lengthy consultation with coaches and Finland, ensured the fixture was completed, but sucked any sign of urgency out of the side.
In any circumstances Hjulmand’s team would struggle to maintain their creativity without Eriksen.
And Hjulmand struggled to hold back the tears during his post-match press conference and revealed they had the choice of finishing the Group B opener on the night or return on Sunday.
“It was more unmanageable to have to restart tomorrow. It was more unmanageable than going back out now and getting it all put behind us,” he said.
“I could not be more proud of this team, who take good care of each other.
“There are players in there who are completely finished emotionally. Players who on another day could not play this match. They are supporting each other. It was a traumatic experience.”
The Duke of Cambridge, who is president of the FA, on Saturday night welcomed the “encouraging news” about the midfielder’s condition, adding “we are all thinking about him and his family”.
A draw would have been the best the Danes could have hoped for, and they were granted a generous penalty by Anthony Taylor, which Pierre-Emil Hojbjerg subsequently fluffed. In the end though, both tournament newcomers Finland and Denmark got the result they needed – Eriksen was awake in hospital, and the tournament lives on too.