The Beautiful Game: How Finland, Denmark, and World Football stood for Eriksen
A few reasons why football is a loved game taken from a night when humanity and class triumphed above everything else.
It was a night where everyone prayed for one man. It was also a night that put into perspective the roles that every individual affiliated with a sport has. Players, medical staff, fans, football organizations, opposition teams, and countless other individuals stepped in to lend a helping hand. Emotions were running high in a sport that is built on passion and hard work. But it was one of the many times the world stood together and showed the way for the Beautiful Game to take center stage.
The Danish Wall
This will go down as one of the most iconic moments of all time. The Danish Wall represented more than just a team trying to protect its player from the visibility of the camera. It was a prompt action that showed unity across the football field. Players standing hand in hand, some distraught others just praying. Everyone doing their bit to help indirectly or directly despite having a ton of emotions running through their mind. The wall stood strong right till Eriksen was take off the pitch.
The first on the scene was a man who epitomized leadership. Simon Kjaer is credited with having ensured Eriksen received the necessary first aid before allowing the medical staff to take over. He then directed his team to form a wall around the player to prevent the numerous camera's from getting an angle. There was no shouting or ordering and panic on the football field. He was calm, composed, and knew exactly what he was doing right from start to end. He ran across to console Eriksen's wife and was lending a helping hand everywhere he could. Kjaer is a representative of what it means to captain a football team both on and off the pitch.
Schmeichel's unseen heroics
While the cameras were focused on one end of the pitch, Kasper Schmeichel made his way to the other end of the field to console Eriksen's wife. The few angles that did capture the moment witnessed him along with Simon Kjaer consoling a visibly stricken Sabrina Jensen. He has done it before during the unfortunate helicopter crash of the Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha near the stadium and has once again shown what footballers are truly made of.
Anthony Taylor's timely intervention
The field organization was key to getting Eriksen immediate medical attention and not once did Anthony Taylor show any signs of callousness or indecisiveness. It took less than 5 seconds from the time he realized what was happening to direct the medical staff onto the pitch and ensure the stretcher was also subsequently allowed to take Eriksen away. He stood by the medical scene the entire time and reportedly communicated all the events to senior officials during the break in the game. It was his organising and attentiveness that played a critical role in restarting the game as well.
The past year has been enough to understand the importance that medical professionals hold in our world. Saving a life is no joke and the Danish medical team along with the stadium medical staff once again showed the world the benefits of timely care involved in their work. The seriousness of the situation was realized once the medical staff was seen sprinting onto the field and the time they took over trying to revive Eriksen. Right from fitting an Oxygen mask to transporting him to the hospital, they were, are, and will always be the true saviors of the football world.
Fans chanting 'Christian Eriksen' from opposite ends of the stadium
A video that went viral during the break-in play is what exemplified the importance of having fans in the stadium. While the teams were in the changing rooms, the crowd began chanting to each other in one voice. Finnish fans, (who were also appearing for the first time to watch their country in a major tournament), chanted 'Christian'. They received a resounding reply from Danish fans at the other end of the stadium saying 'Eriksen'. This continued for a while and was met with a round of applause at the end.
Finnish fans throwing their flags to cover the medical staff at work
While the Danish Players stood strong around Eriksen on one side, the medical staff covered the other side with a white cloth to block the camera view. This was seemingly not enough as there were visible visual gaps seen while the medical staff was attending to the player. What a lot of viewers did not notice was that the Finish flag was thrown to the medical staff from the stands. They used it to help cover the remaining gaps for a while until he was finally taken away on a stretcher.
Finlands' subdued celebration
Joel Pohjanpalo scored to give Finland its first-ever win in its maiden appearance in a major tournament. The entire game was a subdued affair from the second half onwards and Pohjanpalo never once took that aspect of the match away. He chose not to celebrate and put his hands up to signify why he did so. It was a moment of mutual respect for his opposition and all those who had been affected by the events that had taken place.
Chris! Chris… I love you. Lukaku's scored first for Belgium against Russia in a game that took place while the world was still unsure about the condition of Eriksen. Lukaku represented what football players are made of. Despite having being booed by Russian fans just 10 minutes before opening the scoring, he held his head high and went straight to the camera to pay tribute to his Inter Milan teammate. One brother to another.
Solidarity from across the world
Right from Germany's group photo taken during their training session, to fan and player appeals on social media to stop the broadcast, the football world was united. There seemed to be a collective sigh of relief when the news broke that Eriksen was receptive and awake. But the biggest takeaway from the entire event was that football is more than a game of two sides. It is something that encompasses camaraderie that differentiates between none. No matter the time, place, people, or event, people will come together to stand for what they believe in and keep aside their differences.
If people need compelling reasons about why football is often referred to as the Beautiful Game, they should read up on what happened on the night of 12th June 2021.