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UEFA have insisted they have the ‘upmost respect’ for players as they rejected claims from Denmark that they had no choice but to restart their match against Finland on Saturday evening.
The game was temporarily suspended following Christian Eriksen’s sudden collapse five minutes before half-time of the Euro 2020 clash.
Eriksen received emergency medical attention and CPR on the pitch, before being rushed to a local hospital in Copenhagen where he was later described as being in a ‘stable’ condition.
However, less than two hours after Eriksen’s near-death experience, the match was surprisingly resumed with UEFA claiming at the time that the players had given their consent to resume the game.
Christian Eriksen collapsed during Denmark's Euro 2020 clash against Finland
(Image: UEFA via Getty Images)
Whilst there is not a dispute over whether the players of both teams gave their consent to returning to the field of play that evening, there is a discrepancy over what options the players were afforded.
Denmark striker Martin Braithwaite has said: “None of the options were good. We took the least bad one.
"There were a lot of players that weren’t able to play the match, they were elsewhere [mentally].”
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Then, Peter Schmeichel – father of national team goalkeeper Kasper – told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I actually saw an official quote from UEFA yesterday saying that they were following the advice of the player, the players insisted on playing… I know that not to be the truth.
“Or, it’s how you see the truth. They were left with three options, one was to play immediately and get the last 50 minutes played.
Denmark's players gather as paramedics attend to midfielder Christian Eriksen
(Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Should Denmark's match against Finland have been resumed on Saturday evening? Comment below
“The next one was to come in yesterday at 12 noon and finish the 50 minutes and the third option was to forfeit the game, 3-0.
“So work it out for yourself. Is it the players’ wish to play? Did they have any choice really? I don’t think they had.”
The issue of player welfare and wellbeing has been at the centre of the discussion, with all the players on the pitch – and particularly Eriksen’s national teammates – going through a traumatic and hugely distressing incident.
Denmark had dominated the opening 40 minutes of the match but following the harrowing scenes of Eriksen’s collapse, two-hour break and subsequent return to play, they would go on to lose the game 1-0.
Joel Pohjanpalo’s header on the hour mark was enough to secure victory for Finland in their first ever match at a major finals, but the performance of the Danes had notably nosedived.
Captain Simon Kjaer – who had attended to Eriksen initially – was unable to continue after the half time break due to the incident, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s easily-saved penalty was comfortably saved.
However, UEFA have now responded to the Denmark claims in a statement published on Yahoo Sports on Monday: “The players’ need for 48 hours rest between matches eliminated other options.
“UEFA is sure it treated the matter with utmost respect for the sensitive situation and for the players.”
Denmark next play Russia on Friday – but the emotional toll of the episode and Eriksen’s health and recovery will likely, and understandably, be the main focus of their squad.