Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed to the field late in the first half of his team’s game against Finland at Euro 2020 on Saturday, a frightening moment that played out before a stadium filled with fans and broadcast to a live global television audience.
Eriksen received immediate treatment on the grass where he had fallen, and was awake when he left the stadium on a stretcher about 20 minutes later. Tournament organizers reported that his condition had “stabilized.”
Denmark’s soccer federation reported that he was awake, and that the match had been allowed to resume only after his teammates had been assured he was “okay.”
UEFA suspended the match, which had been nearing its halftime break, for more than an hour after Eriksen was stricken. But it later said the game would resume at the request of both teams, and the players — relieved that their teammate and friend appeared to be OK, but a few of them still wiping away tears — soon returned to the field.
Earlier, the Finns had stood and applauded their Danish rivals as they returned to the field to restart the game.
Just over 90 minutes after Eriksen fell to the ground, play resumed. Finland won, 1-0. The victory was its first in a major championship for its national team — Finland had never before played in the World Cup or the Euros — but its celebrations were tempered by the day’s events.
Eriksen was near the sideline, waiting to receive a throw-in, in the 42nd minute when he stumbled and fell forward. Players on both teams immediately sensed serious trouble, rushing to him and waving frantically for trainers to come to his aid.
The Denmark players, some of them crying and others praying, then formed a circle to shield Eriksen from view as the medical teams administered urgent care.
At one point, television images showed a trainer performing chest compressions on Eriksen. The director of the federation, Peter Moeller, told Denmark’s national broadcaster DB that Eriksen had received a “heart massage” on the field.
UEFA, the tournament organizer, immediately suspended the match and later tweeted that Eriksen had been taken to the hospital and “stabilized.” Denmark’s soccer association announced that Eriksen was “awake and undergoing further examinations.”
Following the request made by players of both teams, UEFA has agreed to restart the match between Denmark and Finland tonight at 20:30 CET.
The last four minutes of the first half will be played, there will then be a 5-minute half-time break followed by the second half.
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) June 12, 2021
The incident happened in the 43rd minute of a scoreless game. Play was suspended, and both teams left the field.
Just over an hour after the incident, though, UEFA announced the match would resume “following the request made by players of both teams.”
The teams returned to the field for warm-ups and then played the final four minutes of the first half. Mathias Jensen replaced Eriksen in Denmark’s midfield. Fifteen minutes into the second half, Finland took the lead on a header by Joel Pohjanpalo.
Inside the stadium during the delay, fans waiting for updates during the suspension appeared to unite in concern for Eriksen, at one point volleying chants back and forth between their respective cheering sections.
When the Finnish fans chanted “Christian,” their Danish counterparts answered with “Eriksen.”
Earlier, trainers and medical teams had worked on Eriksen on the field — only yards from a grandstand crowded with Denmark fans — for nearly 20 minutes before transferring him onto a stretcher and carrying him off the field. As he left, Eriksen appeared to be awake on the stretcher, resting his hand on his forehead.
Eriksen’s collapse and subsequent treatment left the crowd in Copenhagen’s Parken Stadium nearly silent, and Denmark’s players struggling to hide their emotions. Denmark’s captain, Simon Kjaer, stayed by his teammate’s side until help arrived. He and goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel then moved to midfield to comfort Eriksen’s partner, Sabrina Kvist Jensen, who had rushed to the advertising boards in front of the stands.
Eriksen, a 29-year-old who plays for the Italian champion Inter Milan, has been a fixture for Denmark for more than a decade. He led the team to the World Cup in 2018, where it advanced to the round of 16, and started for Tottenham Hotspur in Europe’s marquee club championship, the Champions League final, in 2019.
Romelu Lukaku controlled the free ball, spun and fired it into the goal, and then set off to find a television camera so he could say hello to his friend.
Lukaku had known, even before his Belgium team had taken the field against Russia in its Euro 2020 opener in St. Petersburg, about the collapse of his friend and Inter Milan teammate Christian Eriksen in Denmark’s game against Finland in Copenhagen.
So when Lukaku opened the scoring 10 minutes into the first half, he took off to try to send him a message.
“Chris, Chris,” Lukaku shouted into the camera lens after sprinting to the sideline and grabbing it with both hands. “I love you.”
The goal got Belgium started, another by Thomas Meunier doubled the lead and a second by Lukaku sealed things. That was enough to give Belgium a 3-0 victory, and a sparkling start to the Euros in which they are one of the favorites to lift the trophy.
But as the whistle blew that hardly mattered, especially for the Belgian players — Lukaku, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen among them — who were current or former teammates of Eriksen’s. The win was a relief, but surely not the biggest of the day.
“I’m really happy with the win, but for me it was difficult today to play because my mind was with my teammate Christian,” said Lukaku, who admitted “I cried a lot, because I was scared, obviously.”
With the victory in hand, though, Belgium could turn its full attention to what comes next — a reunion with Denmark, and perhaps even with their friend Eriksen, on Thursday in Copenhagen.
At least a dozen Venezuela players and staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus a day before they were to play Brazil in the opening match of the South American soccer championship, according to the health authorities in Brazil.
The outbreak is the latest bad news for the troubled tournament, the Copa América, which was moved to Brazil less than two weeks ago after the scheduled host, Argentina, said it could not hold it safely during the pandemic. Colombia, the other co-host, had dropped out earlier.
And it might not be the only crisis organizers are facing: A report in Bolivia on Saturday said at least four people connected to that country’s national team also had the virus. Bolivia is scheduled to face Paraguay on Monday.
The Brazilian newspaper Globo reported on Saturday that the number of infected members of Venezuela’s traveling party had grown to 12 from five, citing the health authorities in Brasília, where its team is scheduled to play host Brazil on Sunday night. A circular sent to the teams by Conmebol, the governing body for soccer in South America and the organizer of the Copa América, reported the figure as 13.
The Associated Press reported that Conmebol had told Brazilian health officials about the positive results on Friday night.
“The health department was notified by Conmebol that 12 members of the Venezuelan national team’s delegation, including players and coaching staff, tested positive for Covid-19,” the health authorities said in a statement. Venezuela’s team arrived in Brazil on Friday.
“They are all asymptomatic, isolated in single rooms and are being monitored,” the statement added.
Conmebol later publicly confirmed that there were positive cases in the Venezuelan camp; the total number of positives was shared only with the teams.
Reports in Venezuela said the federation was preparing to charter a flight to send 14 replacement players to Brasília so that Sunday’s game could go ahead as planned. Another Venezuelan playing domestic soccer in Brazil also would be added to the roster, the reports said. Teams at the tournament were asked to submit a short list of as many as 60 players as organizers tried to put in place mitigation measures in case of a spate of positive tests.
Two players on Venezuela’s roster were forced to drop out after testing positive ahead of the team’s departure for Brazil on Thursday. The positives after the team’s arrival in Brazil will raise questions about the efficacy of those tests.
Local news media reports had also raised concerns about how strictly the team was following protocols to isolate itself from outsiders after politicians and celebrities posted images from inside Venezuela’s pretournament training camp.
The positive tests most likely will renew opposition toward a tournament that many have said should have been canceled. The players on Brazil’s team have gone public with their concerns about the tournament, even as they have committed to play in it. Almost 500,000 people have died from the virus in Brazil, more than any country except the United States.
The Copa América is the oldest international competition in soccer. This year’s edition, though, can already lay a claim to being the most unpopular edition in its 105-year history.
An 11th-hour decision to switch the 10-nation event to Brazil amid its continuing struggle to contain the coronavirus has led to protests and widespread condemnation inside and outside the country. The tournament was supposed to be held jointly by Colombia and Argentina, but Colombia was dropped amid political protests and then Argentina announced — two weeks before the games were to begin — that it could no longer safely stage the tournament.
Brazil’s populist leader, Jair Bolsonaro, whose handling of the pandemic has drawn much criticism, jumped at the opportunity to step in. The decision to bring the event to a nation still battling the pandemic was met with immediate outrage, with the competition, which will be played without spectators, being darkly described by some opponents as the “championship of death.”
The opposition to the tournament extended to the stars of the Brazil squad, which has collectively expressed its opposition to the circumstances that led to the event’s being moved to their home country. The teams held multiple meetings, and at one point considered boycotting the tournament, before resolving to defend the trophy they won for the ninth time on the last occasion the tournament was played in 2019.
“We are against the organization of the Copa América, but we will never say no to the Brazilian team,” the players said in an unsigned statement.
Still, the outrage continued, and even led to an emergency appeal to Brazil’s Supreme Court by opponents who wanted it canceled. The court ruled on Thursday that the games could go ahead.
The event will, though, be played without two of its major sponsors. Mastercard, a tournament partner since 1992, and the brewing giant Ambev said they could no longer associate their brands with this year’s Copa América.
A headed goal for each side, and a point for each team, too. Breel Embolo and Kieffer Moore score on second-half set pieces, and Wales and Switzerland both will leave Baku with something.
Well, Wales won’t leave: They will play Turkey in the same stadium on Wednesday. Switzerland will feel a bit worse about the draw: They had the lead, and they now head to Rome to face Italy in midweek.
That will be a much tougher task.
Goal! Goal? Nope. Mario Gavranovic, on the field for a minute after replacing Seferovic, scores on a header with his first touch.
But replays show almost immediately that he was offside when he broke for the ball, and V.A.R. quickly rules the goal out. The game remains tied, and the clock keeps ticking.
Goal! Moore ties it up in the simplest way possible: a corner worked quickly to the tallest man on the field, cutting toward the goal. Moore’s run and his header, which caught the Swiss defense flat-footed, may have saved the day for Wales.
A disappointing turn of events for the Swiss, who fell asleep just when they needed to bear down and defend their lead.
If there was one player to track on a set piece, it was Moore ……. and yet.
Deserved goal for Embolo, the 24-year-old Borussia Mönchengladbach striker who has done some hard work inside — including creating the corner that led to the goal — and watched Seferovic miss on his team’s best chances.
Goal! There’s your opener. Breel Embolo scores it, outmuscling Roberts to rise in the air and turn in a corner from Shaqiri.
Tweeeeeet! There’s a scoreless halftime in the books, same as last night. Switzerland had 11 shots and Wales only 2.
Maybe the next 45 will offer more.
Baku was one of the rare cities that planned to allow larger-than-usual crowds for Euro 2020: It said the stadium would be open to 50 percent capacity. At the Baku Olympic Stadium — an aspirational label, since Azerbaijan has never hosted the Games — that would be about 35,000 people.
But there appears to be a fraction of that number inside today.
The and the problem is surely travel rules, not tickets. Moving around Europe is easy if you’re a UEFA bigwig flying by private jet. For the average fan, facing testing and quarantines, it’s quite a bit harder.
And today, it least, it looks like most people just stayed home.
Moore has cut his forehead in an aerial collision with Switzerland’s Kevin Mbabu, but after a trip to the sideline and a few yards of red head-wrap, he’s back looking to get his noggin back in the mix for headers.
After some early pressure from Wales, the field has tilted the other way. The Swiss are sweeping forward well with their outside backs, and Shaqiri keeps popping up in a new spot every few minutes. But Wales is dropping well, and Switzerland is struggling to turn its wide play into real chances as the middle gets cluttered.
Both teams took a knee before kickoff. That’s going to be a talking point all tournament, since not everyone is on board with the gesture.
Gareth Bale starts for Wales but the notable choices in Coach Rob Page’s team are four at the back — Wales has played with three center backs recently, though seems more comfortable in a 4-2-3-1 formation — and that the 6-foot-5 Cardiff City striker Kieffer Moore starts up top.
Expect Moore to act as the target and holdup man while Bale, Daniel James and Aaron Ramsey swirl around him looking to make trouble.
Wales was the surprise team of Euro 2016, and it (and Switzerland) will sense an opening after watching Turkey get pounded on Friday.
Switzerland counters with three at the back. They’ll be busy. But this is also an experienced team, and Xherdan Shaqiri is capable of doing memorable things — and even political things — at any time.
Officially, Euro 2020 started yesterday: the opening ceremony, the fireworks, the first sight of an Italian defender celebrating a tackle. Strictly speaking, though, the first real day of the tournament — when one game seamlessly folds into another, and by the end you have forgotten who played in the first one — is today.
Only one of the major contenders is in action. After Wales against Switzerland and Denmark’s meeting with the Euro newcomers Finland, Belgium faces Russia. The fact that the match is in St. Petersburg makes it a far tougher proposition than it might ordinarily be for Belgium, the world’s top-ranked team. But Belgium goes into this tournament with the highest of expectations; if it cannot overcome a Russian home-field advantage, then it will probably not fulfill its ambitions when the games matter more.
There is an element of last-chance saloon for this Belgian team. The country has been in possession of a golden generation for almost a decade now — personally, I wrote my first assessment of Belgium’s talent explosion as far back as 2012 — and all it has to show for it, so far, is a couple of semifinals. That is not a bad return for a country of 11 million people, but it still runs the risk of being perceived (rightly or wrongly) as an underachievement.
No team other than France is quite as well-stocked across the board as Belgium, even if will run out in St. Petersburg today without the injured playmaker Kevin De Bruyne. Belgium has a miserly defense, a balanced midfield, and a potent attack, led by Romelu Lukaku.
And yet no team is quite so, um, experienced. It is possible that this Belgian generation has passed its peak. Certainly, for some members of the squad, this may represent a final major tournament. This is now or never, for some, and it all starts today.
European soccer’s governing body kept Ukraine and Russia separated in the draw for this summer’s European championship, but that has not stopped the political tensions between the sometimes-warring neighbors from spilling over into the tournament.
A bitter feud emerged on the eve of the tournament after Russia lodged a complaint with the tournament organizers, UEFA, over the jersey Ukraine’s team will wear.
Russia has argued that the design — which includes the Crimean peninsula in an outline of Ukraine’s border as well as two patriotic slogans stitched on the collar — has political overtones. UEFA partially agreed.
A map of the country that covers a large part of the front of the jersey will be permitted, UEFA has said, even though it includes Crimea, a region that Russia annexed in 2014. But the yellow and blue shirt must be modified because UEFA agreed with Russia’s complaint that an inscription “Glory to the heroes” stitched inside the shirts’ collar has overtly political overtones.
UEFA had allowed Ukraine to use the slogan next to another that reads “Glory to Ukraine,” which is now on the back of the jersey. But Russia complained, saying that taken together the slogans could be linked to epithets used by Ukrainian nationalists.
“Following further analysis, this specific combination of the two slogans is deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance,” UEFA said.
UEFA allowed Ukraine to keep the map on the front of the jerseys because it depicts the territory of the country still recognized by the United Nations.
Ukraine said it would modify its shirts before its opening game on Sunday.
Teams from Russia and Ukraine have been separated from each other by UEFA since the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Russian-linked separatists have also taken control of Ukraine’s Donbass region.
Ukraine will wear the jerseys for the first time on Sunday, when it opens its tournament against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Russia’s first game is Saturday, against Belgium. Ukraine and Russia can only meet in the latter rounds of the tournament, a collision that most soccer experts consider unlikely.
The jersey dispute is not the only controversy involving Russia, however. Press freedom advocates in Germany have condemned Russia for barring a journalist with a German state broadcaster from covering games in St. Petersburg. The reporter had, according to reports, recently highlighted links between Russian energy giant Gazprom, a UEFA sponsor, and senior Russian soccer officials.
The journalist, Robert Kempe, who works for state broadcasters WDR and ARD, was denied access to cover games in Russia after local authorities conducted a background check. UEFA said he would be allowed to cover the tournament at its 10 other locations.
Denmark begins its Euro 2020 effort against Finland today with a singular distinction: It’s the only team ever to win the European Championship without actually qualifying for the tournament.
It is a tale that has given hope to every underdog since 1992.
That summer, Coach Richard Moller Nielsen was reportedly preparing to renovate his kitchen when he got a call 10 days before the tournament asking if his team would replace Yugoslavia.
The Balkan nation had been kicked out after war had convulsed Yugoslavia and the United Nations Security Council had voted overwhelmingly to impose sanctions. “The toughest measure taken in the history of international sport,” the director of Yugoslavia’s soccer association said at the time, “and an aggression against football.”
Moller Nielsen had little more than a week to assemble his team. The captain, Lars Olsen, had to drive back from Turkey to make it. Forward Brian Laudrup got a phone call telling him he had a day to report for training. At that session, Laudrup later said, he and his teammates initially laughed at their coach’s ambition for the tournament.
But then, Laudrup said, “he made us believe that we could actually win.”
That is, famously, exactly what happened. Denmark played a scoreless tie with England in its opening game before losing to host Sweden.
A 2-1 victory over France sent the Danes straight to the semifinals — the Euros were a much smaller tournament at the time — and to a game against the defending champion, the Netherlands.
Denmark won in a penalty shootout and then, stunningly, won again in the final against a newly unified Germany. Less than a month after some of the players got the call to participate, they were lifting the trophy.
Such an upset is unlikely to happen again, of course. Only eight teams participated in the 1992 tournament, and Denmark only had to win three of its five games — including one in a shootout after a draw — to be crowned champion.
“We couldn’t fail because there were no expectations,” the former midfielder Kim Vilfort told the BBC in 2012. “If we lost, 5-0, three times then that would not have mattered.”
You can bet on which teams will win at Euro 2020, of course. But you can also bet on how individual players will perform.
One of the most popular betting markets is for the tournament’s golden boot, awarded to the player with the most goals, but the race is always a tricky one to handicap. Players whose teams go deep in the tournament have more games to increase their goal totals. And betting on a goal machine who plays for a weaker team likely to go out in the group stage is usually a good way to separate a gambler from their money.
This year, the pretournament favorite was Harry Kane of England, but given the uncertainties of prediction, he was still a square price at 7-1.
Other favorites included Romelu Lukaku of Belgium (8-1), who will look to open his scoring account against Russia on Saturday; Kylian Mbappé of France (12-1), who lead the tournament’s most fearsome attack; and Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal (14-1).
Mbappé is also the favorite to win the player of the tournament award (8-1), while Phil Foden of England is the leading choice to be named its best young player (5-1).
A couple of weeks ago, as the players who will represent Wales in this summer’s European soccer championships started to report for duty, their coaching staff instituted an unwritten rule: Try, if at all possible, not to mention the F word.
It is not that the word is expressly forbidden; more discouraged. “We haven’t used the term,” said Tony Strudwick, the team’s head of performance. “We are not talking about fatigue.”
Fatigue is always a factor in a major tournament. The European Championship and the Copa América and the World Cup arrive at the tail end of long and arduous club campaigns. They are contested by the most successful players, the ones employed by the finest club teams, who are rarely afforded more than a couple of weeks off before reporting for international duty.
But rarely has the shadow of exhaustion hung so low over a tournament as it does this summer, which arrives in a calendar compacted and condensed by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. In most countries, what is ordinarily a 10-month season was this year crammed into only a little more than eight.
Many of the players involved in the Euros — and the concurrent Copa América, the South American championship — have effectively been playing nonstop since last June. Some are starting to feel it. Marcos Llorente, the hard-running Spain midfielder, confessed earlier this month that, in his final few games of the season with Atlético Madrid, he came off the field unable to run any further. “The brain wanted more, but the body said no,” he said.
FIFPro, the global players union, on Saturday released a letter in which it told the players that it would try to do something about the ever-increasing demands on their time, and their bodies.
“We have negotiated protocols for health and safety protections during the pandemic, and yet in some of the current tournaments the local conditions leave many athletes with great concerns,” the letter said.
“For years, players led a peaceful but vigorous charge for equality, compelling the industry to finally tackle discrimination with the required commitment, and yet today they are being discouraged not only by some fans, but also by governing bodies like the International Olympic Committee.
“It’s time for change. It’s time for the collective of players — through their unions — to sit in their rightful position in the game. In the coming months we will negotiate on your behalf with FIFA and other stakeholders for you to have more say as we push for a fairer and more reasonable schedule, more equitable conditions and greater safeguards and protections on and off the pitch.”
Italy dominated Turkey, 3-0, on Friday in Rome to open the European Championship, but the tournament will really start hitting its stride with three games today, three more on Sunday, three more on … you get the idea.
Here are some basics on how to watch.
Who is broadcasting the games?
In the United States, the bulk of the games will be on ESPN, with a few on ABC. When two games are played simultaneously, one will run on ESPN2 instead. Games also will be streamed on ESPN+. Univision holds the Spanish-language rights.
Not in the United States? Here’s a complete list of UEFA’s broadcast partners, which will sort you out from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.