The sensitivity needed in handling a delicate situation such as the one involving Christian Eriksen was simply not there.
When Denmark’s Christian Eriksen collapsed seemingly out of nowhere during their opening Euro 2020 game against Finland, football fans around the world held their collective breaths. This wasn’t a case of a bad injury or an awkward fall. Eriksen collapsed while collecting the ball for a throw-in. It’s a sight that has unfortunately been seen in football matches before. That, however, doesn’t make it any easier to witness. But what made things worse for fans around the world is that they got to see most of the distressing visuals too, along with those in the stadium. Despite living in a world where access to anything is at an all-time high, those were images few – if any – wanted to see.
Eventually the Danish players formed a protective circle around Eriksen, but not before shots of him getting CPR were shown to the world.
Afterwards, social media was full of people criticising the broadcasters. While that’s not always a fair barometer, the questions being asked were correct. The sensitivity needed in handling such a situation was simply not there.
Indeed, the criticism was so biting that it elicited a response from the man in charge of the broadcast. Jean-Jacques Amsellem is the lead director in charge of the global feed of all Euro 2020 matches in Copenhagen.
After the game, he spoke in length about the decision to show the visuals. “As you can imagine there is no handbook for these sorts of things,” Amsellem told L’Equipe.
“There was a slow-motion of the scene where we can see him fall really clearly, but I immediately forced my teams not to focus on him, not to film him anymore.
“With more than 30 cameras in the stadium, we could have continued to do so, but at no point did we go and do close shots on him.”
He also said the the instruction from UEFA was to not focus on Eriksen, but on fans in the stadium. This, he added, was to show the emotion of people in the ground.
Yet the simple truth was this – none of those were visuals which needed to be seen. Especially after shots of Eriksen collapsing and getting CPR were already shown.
The ideal response, in this case, would have been to simply end the broadcast. Indeed, that is what most channels around the world did after a point.
Rather than focus on the images being shown, a studio discussion sans the distressing images would, in fact, have made more sense.
This isn’t the first time such an incident has taken place in world football. However, the incident does make clear that more can be done to prevent such images from being shown again.
That there remain a lack of guidelines for such a situation is worrisome, given this is something that has happened before. In that regard, there’s no time like the present.
But it isn’t just about the broadcast lessons either. Yes the images were distressing, but it is worth remembering that Eriksen had access to medical aid almost instantly.
The speed at which the medics worked to administer CPR then get him to the hospital is remarkable. There’s also the marvelous first-aid know-how shown by Denmark captain Simon Kjaer.
Kjaer, upon realising the brevity of the situation, not only prepped Christian Eriksen for aid by making him lie down properly but also prevented him from swallowing his tongue.
Indeed, such was the good work done on the Dane midfielder that images afterwards showed he was conscious while being taken to the hospital.
Fans were relieved when news came out that Eriksen was conscious and interacting with people in the hospital. However, there was another shock waiting to come their way.
UEFA announced that the players would be coming back to complete the match later in the day and again, all hell broke loose.
The truth of the matter is that fans, at that point, were simply relieved to know Christian Eriksen was okay. Few if any wanted to sit through the match thereafter.
Yet the options given to the teams were not ideal either – a late Saturday start or an afternoon start on Sunday. Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said that of the options, the former seemed better.
“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 after the match.
“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.”
Yet the fact that neither of the two options were truly desirable ones says a lot. Yes, the fact is that the tournament schedule would need altering. Finding a new day to hold the game might have been an issue too.
But the simple matter was that neither the Finns nor the Danes were in any state to play. Football might be a game of the people, but the ones playing are human too.
Perhaps, the humane side of things should be under prior consideration over logistics.