More than 2,000 grassroots football sites will receive automated external defibrillators in the wake of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, the Premier League has announced.
Inter Milan midfielder Eriksen collapsed in the 42nd minute of Denmark’s match with Finland at the European Championship earlier this month, with the 29-year-old surviving only after being resuscitated on the pitch.
It led to renewed calls for defibrillators to be made more accessible, which have resulted in the Premier League working in partnership with the Football Foundation and Football Association to make the life-saving devices available to sites across the UK over the next few months.
“The Premier League has today announced it will fund the provision of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) at thousands of grassroots football clubs and facilities, aimed at helping save the life of someone experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest,” a statement read.
“Working in partnership with the Football Foundation and The Football Association, the first phase of the Premier League Defibrillator Fund rollout will have AEDs provided to Football Foundation funded facilities which currently are without a life-saving device onsite.
“In the second phase, grassroots clubs that own their facilities will be able to apply for funding for a defibrillator.
“Together more than 2,000 sites will benefit from this investment, with the first 1,000 units delivered in time for the start of the 2021-22 season and the second batch expected in September.”
Each grant recipient will be required to have at least one person who has successfully completed the FA Education’s free online Sudden Cardiac Arrest course.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters added: “The traumatic incident we all witnessed when Christian Eriksen collapsed during Euro 2020 brings into sharp focus the need for defibrillators to be more widely available across the football community.
“The welfare of participants and all those involved in football is a priority and this fund will support many people using football facilities not just with the provision of devices but also the training required to use the equipment.
“Sadly, a sudden cardiac incident could happen anytime, anywhere, and we hope by enabling more facilities to have a device, it will make the difference in saving someone’s life.”
Fabrice Muamba was forced to retire after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch for Bolton in 2012 and welcomed the new initiative.
“I am a big supporter of the Premier League’s new initiative to fund defibrillators for thousands of grassroots football clubs,” he said.
“I know from personal experience the importance of having access to this type of medical equipment and how vital it is for someone’s survival after suffering from sudden cardiac arrest.
“Educating people how to use defibrillators is crucial. I really hope the clubs and facilities will encourage as many coaches, players and staff to undertake the training provided and help create safe places to play the game we all love.”