What happened when two of the world’s happiest countries met in the UEFA2020 Euro game?

June 12., 2021  was a big day for us Finns. Our national football team had made it to their first ever European Championship game. Even the people who usually are not interested in football had now gathered to watch the game on TV. The spirit was high and the truest fans had traveled to Copenhagen to cheer our team in front of the home audience of the Danish team.

Finland has ranked first on the UN Happiness Report for the fourth time in a row. Denmark has also been among the top countries in that study. It was very interesting to watch the game having this in mind!

The game had lasted some 40 minutes when one of the Danish team’s top players, Christian Eriksen, collapsed on the field and soon the audience was to witness the paramedics trying to get him back to life.

The whole world seemed to stop and I bet at that moment millions of people were praying for Eriksen. The minutes seemed long and the paramedics worked hard to revive Eriksen. To protect Eriksen’s and paramedics’ privacy the Finnish fans handed a Finnish flag to cover the situation. At some point the paramedics carried Eriksen away from the football field.

We could see the team mates of Eriksen very shocked and touched by the situation. We could see how the captain of the Danish team comforted the spouse of the collapsed player. The TV cameras showed the audience crying and hugging each other at the moment of despair and insecurity.

While waiting for the news of Eriksen’s condition the fans of the Finnish team wanted to show their support for the Danes and started chanting the collapsed player’s first name “Christian” where the Danish fans answered by chanting his last name “Eriksen”. Even thinking about this now gives me chills and tears of compassion. The countries unified at the moment of adversity. They were sharing the same and only one goal – to get Eriksen back in life and well again.

Later it was announced that Eriksen was alive in the hospital and that was all that mattered. The game continued and Finland won 0-1. Even when the winning goal maker Joel Pohjanpalo was interviewed after the game all that seemed to matter to him was that Eriksen was alive. He did not want to celebrate the victory too much.

In the UN World Happiness Report one of the things measured in the study is community spirit. That is something that we got to experience and witness in that game. 

What else could we learn from the science of happiness point of view from the events of this game?

  • Relationships are the number one thing in happiness
  • When we feel loved and supported we thrive
  • Compassion is empowering
  • Witnessing somebody do good makes us happy
  • When we have difficulties they bond us together

We felt close and united because of what happened in the game. This will definitely bond us together as nations, too. After the game the Defense minister of Denmark sent her Finnish colleague a message where he thanked the team and the fans for their heartwarming and comforting support.  This is how the happiest countries in the world play happy football and I am sure we want to do live by these principles outside the football field, too.