Why Christian Eriksen Survived Where Sam Okwaraji, Chineme Martins Were Lost
By Amaechi Agbo
On Saturday, in Parken Stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, the global football community stood still in prayer and solidarity after Denmark football player, Christian Eriksen slumped during his country’s 2020 Euro Championship match.
According to report, Eriksen who plays for Italian giants, Inter Milan “died for 5 minutes” but was “resurrected” by the Danish medical personnel who averted a global disaster with their professionalism.
It was a major scare, few minutes to first half, the former Tottenham star collapsed, unchallenged, after he was giving a pass and laid motionless.
The match was haulted by the centre referee,
Anthony Taylor from England, who signalled for the medical personnel’s response immediately.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) was conducted on him before he was revived and taking to hospital. Players and fans in the stadium were shedding tears at the sight of the ugly situation.
The match was suspended for hours and after resumption, Finland defeated Denmark 1-0 to record their first ever major Championship win.
Denmark maybe far from Nigeria, but the event that took place on Saturday, June 11, with disaster being averted, also took place in Nigeria, not once but twice (and even more) but the victims were left to feel their pains helplessly to the great beyond.
In 1989, while playing for Nigeria in a World Cup qualifier against Angola, then Green Eagles of Nigeria midfielder (Now Super Eagles) Sam Okwaraji slumped right on the pitch.
Unlike Eriksen, Sam Okwaraji died on the spot in front of the fans. Perhaps, CPR was not administered or the Nigeria medical team were professionally deficient to apply it, to resuscitate him before he passed on.
An autopsy revealed that he died of heart complications. The same medical situation which examinations showed was what Eriksen suffered on Saturday.
As if the last century’s sad event was never a lesson to Nigerian doctors and football administrators, on March 8, 2020, Nasarawa United defender, Chineme Martins slumped and died while playing against Katsina United in the 2019/2020 Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL.
The match was at Lafia City Stadium, and Nasarawa United, playing at home, was leading.
Upon collapsing on the turf, the ambulance provided by Nasarawa United for such emergency, went to sleep and refused to come back to life when it mattered most.
The medical personnel, helpless and lacking professional dexterity, did absolutely nothing to save the life of the 23-year old defender.
Like Okwaraji, Martins departed untimely under avoidable circumstances.
Shortly after that, the football administrators in the country including the Nigeria Football Federation NFF and the League Management Company LMC, “swung” into action.
A panel of enquiry was sent up, findings submitted but up till today nothing have been heard about Chineme Martins death and how those found culpable punished.
Report has it that Martin’s family have gone to court to challenge the LMC and NFF on how their son’s death was handled.
While we are helpless in bringing back events past, in the case of Demark situation, two things saved Eriksen’s life – quick intervention from others around him, and a good medical system. These two factors are what brings a difference between Eriksen, Okwaraji and Martins.
The cases of Samuel Okwaraji and Chieme Martins are just some of the cases of Nigerian footballers who have died on the pitch in Nigeria due to a lack of fast and adequate medical response.
If the Denmark medical system was poor, or there was no quick response from the medical team on the ground, who knows, the Eriksen story might have been a sad one.
It is important to point out that apart from ensuring that all instruments leading to a smooth and successful football matches and tournaments are conducted, the technical and professional acumen of the medical personnel involved for each team must be thoroughly examined
Christian Eriksen survived the cardiac arrest where Okwaraji and Martins failed because the system in Nigeria is faulty.
As Doctors have disclosed that Eriksen is stable but might not play football again (which would be not unexpected) Okwaraji and Martins did not have this privilege otherwise they would have preferred not even to watch football again to remain alive.
Unfortunately, the system in the country, when it mattered most, failed them.