Football quickly loses perspective again after Eriksen collapse

TV View: As Danish player lay stricken, broadcasters made some very crass decisions

The big screen at Wembley displays a message for Christian Eriksen. Photo: Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images

The big screen at Wembley displays a message for Christian Eriksen. Photo: Justin Tallis - Pool/Getty Images

 

After what we witnessed in Copenhagen on Saturday afternoon it was hard to imagine anyone ever getting worked up about a football-related matter again, especially if they’d promised the heavens that they’d choose perspective thereafter so long as Christian Eriksen pulled through.

He appears, mercifully, to be doing just that, so normal service resumed come Sunday, football fans displaying their extraordinary powers of perspective-losing bouncebackability. Like, say, the people who got highly vexed about the work of a certain BBC co-commentator during the England v Croatia game.

As an Arsenal fan on the tweet machine put it, “if I got washed up on a desert island with a tin of corned beef and Jermaine Jenas, I would eat Jermaine Jenas and talk to the tin of corned beef.”

Fretting about Jenas was, need it be said, far from anyone’s minds on Saturday during those gut-wrenching moments when a whole bunch of very marvellous people battled to save Eriksen’s life.

From a broadcasting point of view, trifling as that aspect of it is, there were a series of decisions made during it all that were so crass, they are still genuinely impossible to comprehend. None more so than that grotesque moment when the host broadcaster thought it was a good idea to zoom in on the distraught wife of Eriksen as she was comforted by his team-mates Simon Kjaer and Kasper Schmeichel at the side of the pitch.

And that time when the camera tried to sneak a peek at the stricken Eriksen through the legs of the team-mates trying to form a shield around him.

Decision-making at such a harrowing time can’t be easy but, truly, what on earth were they thinking?

Coverage

And both RTÉ and the BBC kept this coverage rolling, when they should have switched the “off” button and returned to their studios the moment the seriousness of Eriksen’s condition became apparent.

Stephen Alkin and Lisa Fallon on RTÉ and Jonathan Pearce and Martin Keown on the BBC dealt with it admirably, but none of them should ever have been put in that position.

“We apologise to anyone upset by the images broadcast,” said Gary Lineker. “The 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.” Jeez, not quick enough, Gaz.

But the BBC was lucky to have Cesc Fabregas, Alex Scott and Micah Richards on duty for the game, all of them responding emotionally and sensitively to what they had witnessed. “I actually just got on my phone, I messaged my Mum and told her I love her. I think it’s a reminder of how quickly life can change. Just like that,” said Scott.

“One thing you have to have is hope,” said Richards, reminding us of Fabrice Muamba, “we can’t make assumptions, all we can do is pray.”

Soon after, prayers answered, Eriksen was alive and recovering. And Uefa’s tender souls then informed the two teams that they had to resume the game that evening or at 12pm next day. “What options were given to the players?” Richie Sadlier wondered on RTÉ come Sunday. “Was it an ultimatum?” The pity was that Denmark didn’t refuse to play, at which point Uefa might well, Richie suggested, have punished them for upsetting their schedule. At which point you’d have loved to have seen the footballing planet’s rage rain down on the governing body.

No matter, game completed. The result? Who cares?

Sunday, and football made us happy again, the highlight 37-year-old Goran Pandev’s Tardelli-esque celebration of North Macedonia’s first-ever goal in a major tournament.

Taking the mick

Before that, England won their first-ever Euro opening game in the entire history of time, thanks largely to the performance of one Kalvin Phillips who – and the Gods are taking the mick here – is yet another England player, what with his Irish Ma, who should be a boy in green.

The Yorkshire Pirlo, they call him, the big smiley head on him when he spoke to the BBC’s Kelly Somers after the game almost making you happy for him and being forgiving about his choice of allegiances.

It’s as well, though, that Kyle Walker has no Irish roots, Kenny Cunningham’s despair about his display both relentless and a hoot, to the point where if George Hamilton tried to credit him for anything, Kenny fell momentarily silent in a huff. Until: “I get nervous every time he’s on the ball, George, to be honest with ya.”

Liam Brady, meanwhile, was raising severe questions about Harry Kane’s world-class-ness – no, really – while, later in the day, he clinched the “Most Honest” award for conceding he didn’t know a damn thing about Austria. “But I’ve been told to watch out for Sabitzer [with just the 50 caps].”

Then Sabitzer’s pass shredded North Macedonia for Austria’s first goal.

We’ve bounced back. We can shred pundits for doing no homework, opting to devour them like they’re corned beef, like it mattered more than life itself.

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