The Malta Independent 3 August 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Christian Eriksen – A collective sigh of relief

Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 07:46 Last update: about 3 months ago

The world of football watched with trepidation as Danish star Christian Eriksen fought for his life last Saturday.

They were long minutes of tension, fear and shock, and it was only when a photo of the player – which went viral in a few minutes – showed him with an oxygen mask, but with his eyes wide open and fully conscious as he was being stretchered off the field of play that there was a collective sigh of relief.

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Few will forget how, towards the end of the first half of the Euro 2020 match between Denmark and Finland, Eriksen stumbled near the corner flag as he received the ball from a throw-in, ending face down on the turf after he suffered a cardiac arrest. As his colleagues, Finnish rivals and match referee frantically waved for medical assistance, it was immediately clear that the situation was as serious as it could be.

Footage of a doctor massaging Eriksen’s chest to get his heart functioning again further compounded the delicate moments as the world followed the unfolding event in silence and hope.

The good news is, of course, that Eriksen survived the ordeal and was taken to hospital for further treatment and tests. But the story is by no means over, and questions still have to be answered.

First of all, was it correct that the match was continued, less than two hours after a player nearly died on the pitch? Some say yes, life goes on, while the more cynical attribute the continuation to a matter of greed and money. Others believe that at least the game should have continued the following day, allowing more time for the distraught players to come to terms with what had taken place.

Others have raised questions about the too many games that professional players are involved in during a given season. This time the situation was made worse with the Covid-19 pandemic, which meant that the 2020-21 season was more condensed.

But there are also good points that one can take from what happened last Saturday. The Finnish fans chanting the player’s name while the Danish supporters replied with his surname is something that gave the shivers. The way Denmark captain Simon Kjaer was quick enough to react by making sure Eriksen’s tongue was not blocking his breathing and how he consoled Eriksen’s partner earned him praise all around. How Danish players formed a human shield to protect their colleague and be close to him as possible as he was fighting for his life. How the medical team quickly responded to the situation and “brought him back from the dead”, as one of them later said. And how other players, teams and supporters expressed their moral support to the player in what is certainly his most difficult time.

Irrespective of where we all were, everyone spared a thought or said a prayer for the player’s good health. We all breathed easier when we came to know that the player had made it. Others before him were not so fortunate.

When incidents like this take place, one is reminded that footballers are, before anything else, human beings.

They have families, too. Sometimes people tend to forget this.

 

 

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