The BBC has received 6,417 complaints over its decision to continue broadcasting as Denmark midfielder Christian Eriksen received emergency treatment during his country’s Euro 2020 game against Finland, reports the Press Association.
The midfielder, 29, dropped to the ground at the Parken Stadium in Copenhagen on June 12 shortly before half-time, leaving players from both teams in clear distress.
Cameras showed medics desperately trying to stabilise the former Tottenham player as his teammates formed a protective circle around where he was lying on the pitch.
The BBC said viewers had complained about its BBC One coverage showing “intrusive footage of player receiving medical treatment”.
As coverage returned to the BBC studio, former Spurs striker and pundit Gary Lineker said: “In 25 years of doing this job, that was the most difficult, distressing and emotional broadcast I’ve ever been involved with.”
The first-round match in Copenhagen was suspended, before resuming some two hours later after Eriksen was said to be in a stable condition.
Following the match, the broadcaster faced criticism from figures including Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who said coverage “could have cut away sooner”.
Former footballer Ian Wright and ex-heavyweight boxer Frank Bruno also criticised the BBC’s handing of the situation.
The BBC apologised and said the footage was controlled by UEFA.
In a statement, it said: “We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast.
“In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.”
Eriksen is to be fitted with a defibrillator implant, which his doctor said was necessary after “cardiac attack due to rhythm disturbances”.
Eriksen’s mid-game collapse sparked a massive surge of interest in learning CPR, a charity reports.
Between June 13 and 18 the British Heart Foundation had 133,320 views of its CPR and defibrillator website pages, up from 6,942 from June 6 to 11.
And after the charity’s new advert with football legend Vinnie Jones aired, there was another leap in views of the life-saving information, of 82%.
The Daily Mirror is campaigning to make defibrillators a legal requirement in public places, as accessible as fire extinguishers.
The current survival rate for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest in the UK is just 8%.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “The most important thing to remember is that you must act when someone suffers a cardiac arrest.
“Call 999, start CPR immediately and ask someone to bring the nearest defibrillator.”