After Denmark were predictably beaten 3-0 in a recent international friendly against Slovakia, it became apparent that the problems facing the international team were much bigger than first feared. For many, the match represented the kind of match which you play on your games console, whereby your friend picks Real Madrid whilst you opt to play as whoever is at the bottom of the football league pyramid at the time. Denmark included an internet star, a student and a number of futsal players in the squad to face Slovakia, owing to a dispute over a commercial rights dispute between the DBU and player’s union. Despite the fact that the issue has now been resolved, the question on many people’s lips remains, was this situation indicative of a wider problem in football?
Footballing disputes are rare but not unheard of
There have been a number of sporting disputes over the years, including the Rugby Football Union and England’s international players, as well as the Major League Baseball strike of 94/95 but football has also had a few stands offs in recent times. Back in the 1960/1961 season, the PFA (led by none other than Jimmy Hill) wanted to abolish the £20 a week maximum wage and strike action was scheduled on January the 21st, 1961, before being scrapped three days before after an agreement was reached between the two parties.
In more recent times, Scottish referees withdrew their services thanks to a disagreement with the Scottish Senior Football Referees’ Association after claiming not enough was being done to protect them from unjust criticism and unfair treatment and, less than 12 months ago, Denmark’s female team were fined £18,000 after boycotting a World Cup Qualifier against Sweden over a row concerning employment conditions.
Are the Danish players in the right?
Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen recently insisted that the dispute was not about money and that the players would have been happy with an extension of the current deal as a stop gap of sorts until a final agreement can be thrashed out. Eriksen then went on to explain that the players were only ever interested in playing for Denmark and that nothing else really mattered to them. Some may argue that, if that truly is the case, then why were the players happy to see their side field a team of amateurs? Should players be paid for playing international football in the first place? Isn’t pulling on the jersey of your country enough of a reward in itself?
These are just a handful of questions which have been swirling around the internet, which, as per usual, is acting as judge, jury and executioner and is presiding over the case with a certain disdain for the apparent greed of the modern day footballer. Interestingly enough, Denmark are currently 100/1 with most football betting to taste success at Euro 2020 but with the team they fielded against Slovakia, there would probably more chance of a UFO landing on the pitch in the opening ceremony than them taking home the trophy.
Thankfully, a deal between the Danish football association and their player body has now been thrashed out and with key men such as Schmeichel, Eriksen and Christiansen back in the frame, Denmark once again look a good footballing outfit and could go a long way in the next major international tournament.
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Is there a wider problem?
Whilst some may argue that this dispute is indicative of the wider problems football is facing in terms of player power, the chances of this happening elsewhere are pretty low. It’s been widely reported in recent times that the English players donate all of their international bonuses to charity and there have been numerous other examples of players waiving their match fees in order to play for their country. Additionally, the embarrassment that this dispute has caused the Danish football federation throughout the footballing world may make other associations think twice when negotiating with players and their unions so chances are that disputes of this nature will remain fairly rare. Nevertheless, watching “ordinary joes” live their dream and play for their country was entertaining and heartwarming in equal measure, so we won’t mind all that much if this dispute happens again somewhere down the line.