DBU announce Danish World Cup qualifier against Sweden is off

The long-standing contract dispute between the Danish players association (Spillerforeningen) and DBU (Dansk Boldspil-Union) have once more hit breaking point, the newest conclusion a hammer blow for the players.

Near-miss last time

As reported last month the two sides had reached a stalemate in their ongoing negotiations and despite both parties leaving the table as temporary solution was reached ahead of their first World Cup qualifier in Hungary. One of the main stipulations of the temporary fix that saw the team hurriedly jetted to Győr the night before the match, the team having yet to train under new interim coach, Søren Randa-Boldt able to still pull of a highly convincing 6-1 win despite the turmoil off of the pitch – that they’d convene with DBU to arrange a new deal before their next qualifier.

Whilst the match was a success the talks have once more stalled, the player’s demands vis-à-vis being considered as employees of the Union resolved yet still there was no agreement. The issue once more a financial one.

Word from DBU

As time ticked down towards Friday’s kick off in Gothenburg it became clear that the two parties were still butting heads, even disagreeing on who’d left the negotiating table first, despite the constant assistance of players that they were willing to negotiate day and night. The troubles came to ahead earlier today when DBU contacted the SvFF (Svenska Fotbollförbundet) to announce that Friday’s qualifier would not be taking place.

The case however remains a grey area as DBU don’t possess the ability to cancel the game; no football association does, only UEFA or FIFA can if they haven’t received confirmation of the player list 24 hours before kick-off. With this in mind the SvFF are still keen to honour the match. Landslagschefen (an external manager who deals with the admin) Marika Domanski-Lyfors has stated that they’ll be waiting on official confirmation from UEFA and will continue to prepare for what is (was?) set to be a vital game for both in their bid for qualification, until they hear otherwise. The situation similar to the one the Danish team found themselves in before their match last month, neither the Swedish players nor those off the pitch at the SvFF have any intention on stopping their preparations.

It’s important to note at this juncture that whilst the Danish team haven’t been reporting for official training with Randa-Boldt in Helsingør, they have been working together as a collective under Spillerforeningen coach, Mark Strudal in Dragør. With this in mind it’s clear the squad are as prepared as they can be – this separate training clearly stood them well in Hungary – but creates a clear divide between the Spillerforeningen and DBU once more.

In the press release DBU vice president, Kim Hallberg states that it’s a “historically bad day” for not just the women’s team (who reached the Euro 2017 final just two months ago) but all of Danish football. Just two months after stating their desire to host the next European Championship and foster a brighter culture for women’s football in Denmark thing seem almost unrecognisable and the feeling from some in Denmark is actually that the Union cares little for the women’s team.

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A bigger problem

Former coach Nils Nielsen (who only stepped down from his post a handful of weeks ago) has suggest that the women’s team is but fodder for the Spillerforeningen and DBU, the upcoming contract negotiations for the men’s team the real war, this just a preliminary battle. Given the culture of unions that still persists in Denmark it may be hard for some outside to understand why the negotiating is done through the Spillerforeningen but that is just the way it’s done and they certainly have previous with DBU. But with not just Friday’s game in jeopardy - if Denmark don’t field a squad against Sweden the penalty could be anywhere from a fine to Denmark’s ejection from qualification and rule out not just a spot at the 2019 World Cup but the forthcoming Olympics. With this in mind it’s Nielsen’s opinion that the players have been kept in the dark about the gravity of the consequences, not fully guided in the situation.

VAVEL’s own Katja Kragelund has been following the conflict closely and is far from impressed, the native Dane tired of the DBU like so many of her countryfolk.

Although the match is “off” for DBU, the Danish team still train as do the Swedes and even Randa-Boldt (though the coach prepares without his team) who is more focused on Croatia having unequivocally stated that he will not be leading the players out in Gothenburg on Friday. UEFA will still have the final say but the news is very much that the war still rages, this specific battle almost over, the true casualties not known yet.