Belgium to stop game against Denmark for Eriksen tribute

Sports

Belgium’s Romelu Lukaku smiles during a team training session at Parken stadium in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wednesday, June 16, 2021 the day before the Euro 2020 soccer championship group B match between Denmark and Belgium. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

COPENHAGEN (AP) — Belgium’s players will kick the ball out of play in the 10th minute of their European Championship game against Denmark so the stadium can pay tribute to Christian Eriksen with a minute’s applause, striker Romelu Lukaku said Wednesday.

The fans at Parken Stadium are planning a loud ovation for Eriksen in the 10th minute of the Euro 2020 game because the midfielder wears the No. 10 shirt for Denmark. Lukaku said both teams will stop playing to join in the tribute.

”We will kick the ball out for a throw-in to stop and applaud and mark this moment,” Lukaku said Wednesday.

Eriksen remains in a Copenhagen hospital close to the stadium after suffering cardiac arrest during Saturday’s game against Finland.

Lukaku is teammates with Eriksen at Inter Milan and said he “cried a lot” before the Russia game after hearing about the collapse. Lukaku scored twice in that game and ran to a TV camera after the first goal to shout “Chris, Chris, Strength boy, I love you” in a mixture of Dutch and English.

Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said earlier Wednesday he expects Eriksen to be able to hear the tribute from his hospital bed, and that the midfielder will probably be watching on TV.

“I think he’ll be in his (Denmark) shirt and watch the game,” Hjulmand said.

Lukaku said he has exchanged text messages with Eriksen since the incident but was told it wasn’t yet possible to visit him in the hospital.

The striker warned, though, that he won’t take it easy on Denmark when play starts.

”We must also not forget,” Lukaku said, “that we have to win a game.”

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