Europe: European Championship
The horrific scenes in Copenhagen today shook the world of football fandom to its very core. For twelve minutes that seemed like at eternity, the entire world feared for the life of Denmark’s Christian Eriksen.
Amid the outpouring of concern for Eriksen from across the globe, the debate as to whether the European Championship fixture between Finland and Denmark should have been completed on the very day Christian Erkisen had to be medically resuscitated on the pitch will linger for years.
Virtually no broadcasters working in any country endorsed the decision to complete the match. On German television station ZDF, commentators Per Mertesacker and Christoph Kramer expressed disbelief at the choice to allow it to continue.
No one shall forget the tears in the eyes of the Danish national team players as they collectively shielded their unconscious colleague Christian Eriksen. Fans privy to the 29-year-old midfielder’s condition from the adjacent seats in the stands wore shocked facial expressions as the team’s medical staff performed CPR on Eriksen after his collapse.
Stonefaced broadcasters around the world struggled to find the words to describe what was happening. Such an exigent medical emergency on a football pitch had never taken place before such a large audience. Moments after match official Anthony Taylor officially suspended the match, ZDF commentator Per Mertesacker was asked if the match should be completed.
“We can not,” the 2014 World Champion replied bluntly, “no.”
UEFA ultimately decided to resume the match after a 90-minute delay. Action would pick up in the 43rd minute, when Eriksen collapsed. As cameras caught the players returning to the pitch clearly having difficulty processing their emotions, Mertesacker and fellow 2014 World Champion Christoph Kramer were probed for their thoughts on the decision.
“It confounds me,” Kramer said, “If that happened to us, I would find it very difficult to return to the pitch. If you asked me personally, I have no idea how I could engage in a physical duel out there. There will be a dark shadow cast over this game.”
Kramer’s augury proved correct. The players could barely bring themselves to challenge each other in the initial four minutes before a five-minute “halftime break” was scheduled to commence. Danish keeper Kasper Schmeichel later committed a mental error that led to a Finnish goal for Leverkusen’s Joel Pohjanpalo. Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg later missed a chance to equalize with an unfocused kick from the penalty spot.
The consensus in the ZDF broadcast booth was that finishing the match on the same day as the chilling and jarring scene was not the correct choice. Even if, as has been reported, Eriksen himself asked his teammates to finish the fixture, few will have the feeling that matters were correctly handled today.
“It’s very very difficult,” Mertesacker said on ZDF air, “Maybe you should sleep on it for a night. That would have made more sense.”
“This was absolute madness,” Kramer later added, “it should have never happened.”
|18||Daniel Wass ↩76|
|4||Simon Kjær (C) ↩63|
|10||Christian Eriksen ↩43|
|8||Thomas Delaney ↩76|
|19||Jonas Wind ↩63|
|11||Andreas Olsen ↪63|
|21||Andreas Cornelius ↪76|
|3||Jannik Vestergaard ↪63|
|17||Jens Stryger Larsen ↪76|
|24||Mathias Jensen ↪43|
|22||Jukka Raitala ↩90|
|14||Tim Sparv (C) ↩76|
|20||Joel Pohjanpalo ⚽ ↩84|
|10||Teemu Pukki ↩76|
|26||Marcus Forss ↪84|
|5||Leo Väisänen ↪90|
|11||Rasmus Schüller ↪76|
|19||Joni Kauko ↪76|
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German ZDF commentators Christoph Kramer and Per Mertesacker express shock at choice to complete Euro fixture