Yesterday was a day of catharsis for Danish players and fans. Five days after Christian Eriksen nearly lost his life on the pitch, Denmark played their second match of Euro 2020. This game was in Copenhagen as well, and from the anthems to Poulsen's 2nd minute goal, it was one of the most emotionally-charged atmospheres we can ever remember during a football match. The emotion crescendoed in the 10th minute of the match, when Belgium kicked the ball out of play for a minute's applause for the Inter midfielder, who was watching the game from a nearby hospital room.
During that tenth minute, there was quite a stark difference in tone on the two broadcasts in these islands. On RTÉ, Ronnie Whelan seemed to say such an outpouring of emotion wasn't really needed.
Emotional scenes in Copenhagen as play is halted in the 10th minute as mark of respect to Christian Eriksen #DEN 1-0 #BEL #DENBEL #Euro2020 #RTESoccer
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— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 17, 2021
Stephen Alkin: Penny for Christian Eriksen's thoughts, lying in his hospital bed, seeing his side doing him proud.
Ronnie Whelan: I'm sure he'd be saying there's no real need for this. I think he's that sort of fella. I'm sure he's happy but there's no real need for it now, isn't it? Everything's alright. He's okay. Let's get on with the football again.
The tone was completely different on ITV. Commentator Clive Tyldesley was clearly moved by the scenes at the Parken. (Jump to 1.53)
Clive Tyldesley: We can't know whether we'll ever see Christian Eriksen play again. Five days ago, we couldn't be sure if we'd ever see him smile again. So much love... and so much talent.
While Clive judged the moment sensitively and with an eye to viewers' heartstrings, Ronnie's 'let's play football' reaction offended many watching RTÉ's coverage. It might have seemed like fair comment judging by Erikson cool on-pitch personae. (For what it's worth, Eriksen texted the Denmark whatsapp group after the game and called the performance 'fantastic') . However, Whelan misjudged how emotionally-involved we've all become in Eriksen's story this week. We were all witnesses.
In Ronnie's defense - as was said on Twitter - Whelan started the 1985 Champions League final for Liverpool, where 39 people died before kickoff and the match continued anyway. You can understand if he's not exactly sentimental about football.
On the whole, RTÉ coverage of the Eriksen incident has been strong, especially in condemning UEFA's treatment of the Denmark players.
For those lucky to be in the Parken yesterday, it did seem like one of the most moving experiences they'll ever experience in life, not just football.
"I’ve played many places in my life but there is nothing that can top this,” Kasper Schmeichel said.
SEE ALSO: Ally McCoist Co-Commentary Highlights The Huge ITV-Shaped Void In Our Euros Viewing Experience