By Jimmy Patrick Alunyo
On Saturday 12th June, 2021, Danish midfielder Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch while playing for his country in the EURO 2020 Group B match against Finland. Eriksen was given emergency CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) on the pitch by a competent emergency medical team to try and restore the normal rhythm of his heart in order to allow it to pump again.
Cardiac arrest happens when the heart stops beating and usually it is from the abnormal electrical activity of the heart. Eriksen’s collapse on the pitch was one of the most concerning and scary scenes we have seen in recent sporting history from a medical standpoint. A similar incident also happened with former Bolton player Fabrice Muamba nine years ago while he was playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham Hotspurs. Muamba who was watching the match in the comfort of his home, relived the horrific scene and this is what he had to say, “Him being alive is obviously the best thing that has come out of this EURO 2020, regardless of whoever wins, Christian is okay.” Muamba highlighted how important it is to have good medical care available to you that could help somebody survive these kinds of medical emergencies in football.
Former Tottenham Hotspurs cardiologist Sanjay Sharma said that the event is uncommon among sports personalities, usually occurring around 1 in 50,000 sports people and usually in people with undetected cardiac fault of the heart muscle or the electric muscle.
He continued by saying for a sportsman like Eriksen, he would have been tested on an annual basis, in fact he was tested in comprehensive details when he signed for Spurs, and was tested annually till 2019 when he left the club, and his cardiac investigation were normal and his incident really did beg the question of why it happened now.
This is a wakeup call for Ugandan football as this begs the question of how much of testing do we give to our players before signing them and conditioning them to play, How comprehensive are those cardiac tests given to our players and lastly how prepared are our emergency team doctors to perform an emergency CPR incase such incident happens with one of our players on the pitch.
Luckily for Eriksen, he is in a stable condition in the hospital, but his incident served to redirect our thinking toward developing the best emergency medical care for our players who might need it anytime in their line of duty.