No-one likes dealing with a crisis. Sudden, unexpected incidents, reputation-threatening, sadly sometimes even life threatening. Crises happen, yet they rarely play out as planned, no matter how many potential scenarios you’ve considered, or meticulous responses you’ve prepared.
You cannot be ready for every single permutation or variable, however adept you are at crisis management. Whenever they occur, decisions have to be made in real time, often in split seconds, and all the while the world is watching. Mistakes will be made; lessons will need to be learned.
It’s wonderful that Christian Eriksen is in recovery following what we now know was a cardiac arrest during Denmark’s Euro 2020 match against Finland on Saturday. It was a horrendous situation, and one that played out distressingly, horrifically and unnecessarily visually in front of a global audience – live.
Questions will need to be asked of the host broadcaster’s inconsiderate and disrespectful decision to show close-ups of the situation, seeing CPR being carried out on the player – a human being, first and foremost. Then, gratuitous shots of players in the midst of a terrifying and emotional ordeal as they provided a human shield from prying eyes. Respect of the highest order to those individuals who showed incredible camaraderie thinking the worst and praying for a miracle… one that thankfully came.
But no-one knew how this would play out. There was a part for the BBC to play; rather than continue to show the feed, especially when it was clear emergency efforts were being used to revive Eriksen, they could and should have cut back to the studio. The broadcast team would have been equally shocked at the scenes unfolding, but – just as in PR – a professional veil has to be drawn. It’s easy to criticise at times of crisis: why not do this, do that, say this, show that… but sometimes reading the situation requires deployment of human emotion.
UEFA, too, showed where their priorities were. Their initial tweet, the first to confirm the status of Eriksen, focused on the match rather than a medical update.
“Following the medical emergency involving Denmark’s player Christian Eriksen, a crisis meeting has taken place with both teams and match officials and further information will be communicated at 19:45 CET. The player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised.”
This should have read:
“Following the medical emergency involving Denmark’s player Christian Eriksen, we can confirm that the player has been transferred to the hospital and has been stabilised. A crisis meeting has taken place with both teams and match officials and further information will be communicated at 19:45 CET.”
Priorities: People first. And on that note, we wish a very speedy recovery to Christian, and to his impressive club mates who demonstrated just what heroes they are. They were the real winners on Saturday.