Euro 2020: Some things are much larger than football

Players gather on the pitch prior to resuming the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Players gather on the pitch prior to resuming the UEFA EURO 2020 Group B football match between Denmark and Finland at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12, 2021. (Photo by Jonathan NACKSTRAND / POOL / AFP) (Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images) /

Editor’s note: This article was written on Saturday night and published early Sunday morning. The situation discussed throughout is still developing and therefore, the written words may not be the most current updates. Please refer to official football news sources for continued updates on Christian Eriksen.

I have made it a goal of mine to discuss the standout Chelsea performers at the Euros over the next month. This endeavor began with Jorginho on Friday and was supposed to continue with Andreas Christensen on Saturday. For those of you expecting a performance review for the Danish defender against Finland, I regret to inform you that you’ll have to wait until after Denmark plays Belgium on Thursday. This piece is about something much, much bigger than football.

I, like many others around the globe, sat in my living room glued to the television as halftime approached in the mid-day match from Copenhagen. However, my soul soon left my body as I watched Christian Eriksen collapse and the stadium go into a silent panic. It was at that exact moment that football became inconsequential. The beautiful game that means everything to so many individuals was rendered unimportant in comparison to the health of one of its most beloved stars.

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Time stood still as the world held its breath, waiting for the latest news regarding the health of Eriksen, hoping for a positive update. Thankfully, as the day went on, we were given the best news possible. Eriksen was talking, breathing on his own and in stable condition while resting in a local hospital. He was even able to FaceTime his Danish teammates and offer words of encouragement before their match versus Finland resumed.

The game should’ve never been played out on the same day, but more on that later.

Before discussing a lesson we learned on Saturday, I feel it is necessary to shout out the heroes of the horrifying events. There are a number of people that deserve mentioning because without them, this terrifying situation could’ve ended differently. The Danish players displayed a bravery in this event that cannot be described. While medical teams raced to treat their teammate, Eriksen’s compatriots provided cover around the scene to give them a bit of privacy. Tears streamed down the faces of many—including Chelsea’s Christensen—but they did not back down until the 29-year-old was in safe hands and being carried off the pitch.

Denmark captain Simon Kjaer deserves a paragraph all his own though. Kjaer was one of the first individuals to race to aid Eriksen. His quick decision making allowed medics to reach the midfielder faster, but that’s not all he did. After his teammate was being cared for and there was nothing left that Kjaer could do, he raced across the pitch to console Eriksen’s long-time partner during these dark moments. Goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was also present in this act and deserves a specific mention for his compassion.

The swift actions of the medical personnel and referee Anthony Taylor must also be praised. Taylor wasted no time stopping the contest and getting the Danish staff over to treat Eriksen as quickly as possible. The adept thinking of the medical staff was tremendous. As the rest of the world watched and prayed, this heroic group sprung into action. The importance of those incredible men and women cannot be overstated.

Now that we’ve highlighted the heroes of the day, it’s time to talk about the crucial lessons we learned. Most importantly, we were reminded that football does not matter as much as we think it does in the long run—especially when compared to one’s health. Life is fragile; we are human beings first and football fans second. Right now, we are all Christian Eriksen supporters.

Another issue brought to light on the day was UEFA’s blatant disregard for the players. Eriksen—being the brave and caring soul he is—might’ve wanted the game to resume, but the circumstances both teams were asked to play under were far from ideal. Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand confirmed this post-match as he revealed UEFA gave his side two options: resume the match on Saturday or play it at noon on Sunday. His players were not in the correct state of mind to finish a football match, nobody was.

UEFA made the correct decision in suspending the game as soon as possible after the incident. However, its actions from there on out were inexplicable. No football should have been played afterward, especially considering a handful of Belgium players’ (like Romelu Lukaku and Toby Alderweireld) close relationships with Eriksen. As mentioned earlier, some things are more important than football, this was one of those things. UEFA once again displayed its true colors.

The larger concern of player safety was also discussed. It must be said beforehand that the cause of Eriksen’s collapse is not yet known, nor is it known to be related to fatigue, that’s not what I’m suggesting at all. However, what I am stating is that players are not robots. Former Chelsea goalkeeper Asmir Begovic shared his thoughts on the subject via Twitter:

Football shut down in March of 2020 in the middle of the season due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Players were then asked to return after a few months off and given a few training sessions to recover before jumping right into the season. After a period in which teams were playing two to three games per week, they received less than a month off for the summer before returning to the same schedule for the upcoming campaign. Long in-season breaks were littered with pointless international breaks and then seemingly as soon as the season ended, the European Championships began. Oh yeah, all of this occurred during a worldwide pandemic. UEFA and all other football governing bodies pretending to care about player safety is a disgrace. Nobody else needs to get hurt before revisions are made.

Next. Euro 2020: Matches with the biggest Chelsea influence. dark

In conclusion, the only thing that matters in all of this is Eriksen’s continued health. Here’s to hoping the Danish midfielder is able to make a speedy recovery and doctors can find out what caused this medical emergency. The thoughts and prayers of everyone at The Pride of London continue to remain with Christian Eriksen and his loved ones throughout this unimaginably scary time.