September 17, 2021

‘I knew straightaway something was wrong’ – Denmark-Finland referee recounts moment Eriksen collapsed on field

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The Inter ace suffered cardiac arrest in the first game of his nation’s Euro 2020 campaign and was forced to receive emergency pitchside treatment

Referee Anthony Taylor has told for the first time his experience of taking the reins of Denmark vs Finland at Euro 2020, admitting that he knew instantly that Christian Eriksen was in danger following his collapse in the game. 

Eriksen fell to the ground uncontested during the first half of the group game, and received emergency treatment on the field before being rushed to hospital. 

Thankfully, the Inter midfielder made a full recovery after suffering cardiac arrest, thanks in great part to the quick thinking of his team-mates, medical staff and others involved in the game who ensured he was attended to as soon as possible.

What was said? 

“I could tell straight away. Christian was on his own. The only thing that was close to him was a bouncing ball which hit his knee,” Taylor explained to the BBC when asked about the moment Eriksen went to ground. 

“I was actually looking directly at him when he fell over. I could see his face as he fell. I knew straightaway something was wrong because of how his face looked and how he fell to the floor. That is what concerned me the most.

“My main priority is the safety of the players. That means if a player is injured or not well, they need medical help.

“That is all I did. I called a doctor on to the field. Nothing else hit me until the following day when I was travelling back to [the match officials’ base in] Istanbul. The real heroes on that night were the Danish captain and the medics who performed the initial CPR and defibrillation.

“In the moment it happens the sole focus is to ensure Christian got the treatment he needed. He clearly did because of the quick reaction of not only his captain but also the medics. That is the bottom line. The football, at that point, was irrelevant. At the end of the day, we are dealing with people.

“In the immediate aftermath of getting the teams on to Christian, everybody is still coming to me as the match referee for what do we do next. Is the game continuing? Is it not? What do we do? How long do we wait? That is my job in conjunction with the Uefa delegate. Even after that initial unfortunate situation, I still had plenty to do in terms of managing the emotions of everybody there.

“The fundamental thing was that Christian was OK and got the help he needed. Then we had to make sure both sets of players were OK and I had to make sure the rest of my team were OK.”

When was decision to continue playing taken?

After a prolonged delay Denmark and Finland eventually resumed their match, with the latter running out 1-0 winners. 

“I had experienced that before, not only at a Premier League game but also in my previous work in the prison service. I genuinely needed to consider my assistants and my fourth official but at the time, when we took the players inside, I am not with these guys,” Taylor said of the decision to continue playing once Eriksen’s condition had been confirmed.

“They are sat in our changing room. I am in a different room with the match delegate and representatives of the teams.

“We had decided to suspend the game until we found out how Christian was. That was the fundamental piece of information we needed to know before we could make any further decision about the game continuing.

“I didn’t get chance to speak to my team until I went back into my changing room quite a long time afterwards. I needed to see how they were and to make sure – if needed – could we continue the game ourselves.”

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