‘We’re coming home’: How Denmark views the Euro 2020 semi-final clash with England

Denmark face England in the Euro 2020 semi-final clash on Wednesday night and the Danes are not cowed judging by the pre-match banter. It's not football that's coming home, they say.

'We're coming home': How Denmark views the Euro 2020 semi-final clash with England
Denmark supporters celebrate after their team won the UEFA EURO 2020 quarter-final football match between the Czech Republic and Denmark at the Olympic Stadium in Baku on July 3, 2021. (Photo by Darko Vojinovic / POOL / AFP)

Prior to England facing Denmark in the Euro2020 semi-finals, Danish European Championship player and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen said the Danish team had received a lot of support from England following Christian Eriksen’s collapse. 

That is, until Denmark got through to play England in the semi-finals.

“We had an incredible number of supporters in England and we have been their favorite team so far,” Andreas Christensen said. “That has changed. Now we have become their enemies.” 

European Championship players receive text messages from England: Now you are our enemies, reports Jyllands-Posten

But Christiansen himself said he thinks Denmark’s chances are good, despite England being the favorites: “As a team, I would not say they are that much better.”

‘Not that much better’ – Denmark’s Andreas Christensen on England, reports the Guardian

Denmark’s head coach Kasper Hjulmand said Denmark is full of belief after its 1-0 victory over England in October in the Nations League. “They have a lot of support but also a lot of pressure on them.”

He referred to the fact that England hasn’t been in a major final since the World Cup in 1966. 

That’s when Denmark – home of the jante law, an informal, egalitarian set of cultural commandments which can best be summarised as ‘You think you’re better than me?’ – stepped in to knock England down a notch.

When an English journalist asked Danish national team goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, who plays for Premier League club Leicester, what it would mean for him if he crushed England’s dream to bring the trophy home, Schmeichel replied with a bit of snark.

 “Has it ever been home? Have you ever won it?”

When the journalist said the trophy had been home in 1966, Schmeichel reminded him that it was the World Cup, not the European Championships. Eliciting smiles and laughter from his teammates, the comment went viral on social media Tuesday night, prompting responses from fans.

Once the laughter died down, Schmeichel said he wasn’t thinking much about England. 

“I think about what it will mean for our country at home,” Schmeichel said. “The joy it will bring in a country with only 5.5 million inhabitants to be able to do something like that.”

Schmeichel gives English journalists a cheeky reply, reports Jyllands-Posten.

However, England does have the home advantage, with the match held at Wembley in London. Although 8,000 tickets have been set aside for Danish fans, the remaining 54,000 seats are likely to be filled mostly by fans of England.

Denmark’s national lottery, Danske Spil, puts the odds of Denmark winning in the July 7th match at 18 percent, mostly because of the difficulty of playing them on their turf. 

The odds might not favor Denmark, but the Danes still believe in victory, reports Ritzau.

“England is a clear favorite against Denmark,” said Mathias Reimer Larsen, who is the odds setter in Danske Spil. “Additionally, the home court advantage adds another dimension.”

But Danes are betting against the odds. Eighty-two percent of bets have been placed on a Danish victory in the semi-final.

Berlingske’s correspondent in Britain, Poul Høi, writes why he thinks part of the reason Danes are so motivated to win Wednesday’s match has to do with what he calls the “Daily Mail syndrome” from which many English supporters suffer.

The reason Denmark must win Wednesday night has nothing to do with Denmark, reports Berlingske.

What is the Daily Mail syndrome? According to Høi, it’s the way English supporters don’t just feel the need for England to win, but for others to lose. “A victory for England will be intolerable,” he writes. 

And so, barbs are flying from both sides of the North Sea.

English newspaper mocks Denmark ahead of semi-final match, reports Tips Bladet.

British tabloid The Sun placed in Danish tabloid BT showing a picture of white bread with a cross made out of bacon, resembling an English flag (bacon is Denmark’s largest export to the country).

The ad reads “We eat you for breakfast.” 

The ad in BT inserted by the The Sun. Photo: BT

BT’s ad, which ran in The Sun, shows a group of Danish vikings and reads “It’s not coming home… We’re coming home!”

The ad in The Sun inserted by BT. Photo: BT

It’s a theme we’ve also seen in Politiken’s daily cartoons: 

Politiken’s daily cartoon ahead of Wednesday’s semi-final match

We’ll have to wait and see what tomorrow’s cartoon will bring.

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Could Scandinavian countries lead the way in taking stand against Qatar World Cup?

Vehemently opposed to Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup, football federations in the Nordic countries are putting pressure on Doha and FIFA to improve conditions for migrant workers in the emirate.

Workers during construction of the Lusail 2022 World Cup stadium in December 2019. Football federations in Nordic countries led by Denmark have spoken out against Qatar's hosting of the event.
Workers during construction of the Lusail 2022 World Cup stadium in December 2019. Football federations in Nordic countries led by Denmark have spoken out against Qatar's hosting of the event. Photo: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Together with rights organisation Amnesty International, the federations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland have ratcheted up the pressure in recent months, raising their concerns and presenting recommendations in letters, meetings with officials and pre-game protests.

“We are against holding the World Cup in Qatar, we thought it was a bad decision,” the head of the Danish federation DBU, Jakob Jensen, told AFP.

“It is wrong in many ways. Because of the human rights situation, the environment, building new stadiums in a country with very little stadium capacity,” he said.

Denmark is the only Nordic country to have qualified for the tournament so far. Sweden face a playoff next year to secure a place and Norway, Finland and Iceland have been eliminated.

Leading the charge, the Danish federation regularly publishes the Nordic countries’ letters sent to FIFA and holds talks with Qatari officials, including an October meeting with Qatar head organiser Hassan Al-Thawadi.

The main concern is migrant workers’ rights.

Qatar has faced criticism for its treatment of migrant workers, many of whom are involved in the construction of the World Cup stadiums and infrastructure.

Campaigners accuse employers of exploitation and forcing labourers to work in dangerous conditions.

Qatari authorities meanwhile insist they have done more than any country in the region to improve worker welfare, and reject international media reports about thousands of workers’ deaths.

The Nordics have also raised other concerns with al-Thawadi, Jensen said.

“Will homosexuals be allowed to attend the World Cup? Will men and women be able to attend the matches together? Will the press have free access to all sorts of issues to do investigations in the country?”

“And all the answers we received were ‘yes’. So of course we’re going to hold him responsible for that,” Jensen said.

The Danish federation said its World Cup participation would focus on the games played on the pitch, and it will not do anything to promote the event for organisers.

It will limit the number of trips it makes to Qatar, the team’s commercial partners will not take part in official activities there, and its two jersey sponsors will allow training kit to carry critical messages.

In Norway, whose qualification bid fell apart when its best player Erling Braut Haaland missed games through injury, the issue culminated in June when its federation held a vote on whether to boycott the World Cup.

READ ALSO: Norway’s economic police call for boycott of Qatar World Cup

Delegates ultimately voted against the idea, but an expert committee recommended 26 measures, including the creation of a resource centre for migrant workers and an alert system to detect human rights violations and inform the international community.

Like other teams, Norway’s squad also protested before each match by wearing jerseys or holding banners like the one unfurled during a recent match against Turkey, reading “Fair play for migrant workers”.

But the Nordic countries have not always acted in line with their own campaign.

Last month at a Copenhagen stadium, a Danish fan was ordered to take down his banner criticising the World Cup in Qatar, as FIFA rules prohibit political statements.

And Sweden’s federation recently scratched plans to hold its winter training camp in the emirate as it has done the past two years.

Sweden’s professional clubs had protested against the hypocrisy of holding the camp there while at the same the federation was leading the protests with Nordic counterparts.

The professional clubs wanted to send a “signal”, the chairman of Swedish Professional Football Leagues, Jens Andersson, told AFP.

Individual players have also spoken out. 

Finland’s captain Tim Sparv last week issued a joint appeal with Amnesty demanding that “FIFA must ensure that human rights are respected”, adding: “We are in debt to those people who have worked for years in poor conditions.”

So far, none of FIFA’s 200 other member federations have joined the Nordic campaign.

“Hopefully all these Nordic neighbours of ours and us taking these steps will have an impact on other countries,” Mats Enquist, secretary general of the Swedish Professional Football League, told AFP.

“We need to ensure that all the aspects of football, not just the richest, are really taken care of when we come to a place.”