Danish international footballer Christian Eriksen was given chest compressions by medics during the Euro 2020 clash against Finland in Copenhagen on Saturday.
Eriksen, 29, collapsed face first into the pitch while running to collect a throw-in with no other player near him. His teammates and Finnish players nearby quickly signalled to English referee Anthony Taylor that Eriksen, a former Tottenham Hotspur favourite, needed urgent medical attention.
The doctors ran over to Eriksen and, as it became apparent just how serious the situation was, the 16,000-strong crowd in the stadium fell silent. The Finnish midfielder Joel Pohjanpalo had his head in his hands in distress. Thomas Delaney, the Danish midfielder, used his shirt to wipe tears from his eyes. The Denmark players, stepping back to allow the medics access, formed a shield around Eriksen to allow him and the tending medics privacy.
A stadium announcer asked fans to stay in their seats until further information could be provided. Eriksen’s partner emerged on the pitch where she was consoled by Denmark captain Simon Kjaer and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Both teams subsequently left the field with officials holding up sheets to hide the stricken player from view.
Eriksen was given treatment for about 10 minutes before being carried off on a stretcher. A Reuters photographer reported seeing Eriksen raise his hand as he was carried away.
Simon Kjær was widely praised for his role in the immediate aftermath of Christian Eriksen’s collapse. The Denmark captain was seen securing Eriksen’s airway, guiding teammates to shield him from cameras, and consoling Eriksen’s partner, Sabrina Kvist Jensen, who stepped on to the pitchside as treatment was ongoing.
The BBC later apologised that footage of Eriksen’s treatment was screened live. Host Gary Lineker tweeted: “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 [shot] of the stadium. Apologies.”
Experts said the Parken stadium is very close to the Rigshospitalet, one of Denmark’s top cardiac units. In a statement Uefa said the player had been “stabilised”. The news that Eriksen had been taken to hospital was greeted by the crowd chanting his name – Finnish fans chanted “Christian”, while their Danish counterparts replied “Eriksen”.
The Danish Football Association said later the player was “awake and waiting for more tests”. Uefa announced the match had been suspended pending a meeting with players and officials.
The Football Association released a statement, which read: “Our thoughts this evening are with Christian Eriksen and his family, and all connected with the Danish Football Union.” The Welsh FA said their players and staff were “all praying” for Eriksen.
Dozens of current and former players posted messages of support for the player, including his Internazionale teammate Achraf Hakimi. “Eriksen Please,” tweeted the Moroccan international.
Others posting similar tweets for the Denmark midfielder include former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher and Manchester United’s former defender Gary Neville as well as current England and Aston Villa forward Jack Grealish.
Former Bolton Wanderers midfielder, Fabrice Muamba who collapsed after suffering a heart attack, said poignantly on social media: “Please God.”
Muamba, whose heart stopped beating for more than an hour, was revived and eventually recovered in hospital after a cardiac specialist in the Spurs crowd ran on to the pitch to assist.
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham and shadow justice secretary, tweeted: “Prayers and thoughts for Danish and Spurs Legend Christian Eriksen. “We are all rooting for you brother.’
A spokesperson for the BBC issued an apology after pictures of Eriksen were broadcast while he received treatment. In a statement to PA Media, a BBC spokesperson said: “We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast.
“In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.”
Former Spurs striker Gary Lineker, who was in the BBC studio for the match, also apologised for the continued coverage of the incident but said they “were the host pictures and out of our control”.
He added: “They should have stayed on a wide of the stadium. Apologies.”
Lineker later said: “In 25 years of doing this job, that was the most difficult, distressing and emotional broadcast I’ve ever been involved with.”