Denmark coach says team will ‘focus on football’ in Qatar

Denmark's head coach Kasper Hjulmand said the team would 'focus on football' in Qatar, after FIFA rejected the country's request to wear special jerseys advocating human rights at training.

Denmark coach says team will 'focus on football' in Qatar
Danish men's national team coach Kasper Hjulmand and captain Simon Kjær speak to media on Monday. Photo: Claus Bech/Ritzau Scanpix

Speaking to reporters on the eve of the Danish squad’s departure for the World Cup, Hjulmand said that they had as a group “decided we will focus on football.”

“Now we are here, the day before we travel, and for us our expectations are that we land and we do our job,” Hjulmand said.

Last week FIFA denied the Danish request to be allowed wear jerseys bearing the message “Human Rights for All” during training sessions in Qatar.

“We won’t be wearing that jersey at all,” Jakob Jensen, CEO of the Danish Football Association (DBU) told AFP Monday

READ ALSO: Denmark will not send representative to Qatar World Cup unless new government in place

Jensen said that while FIFA’s decision not to allow the jerseys had followed “standard procedure” he added they believed the message “was not very political because this should be a statement that everybody could support.”

Qatar has faced criticism for its human rights record in the treatment of foreign workers on major infrastructure projects for the World Cup and over women’s and LGBTQ rights.

At the same time Jensen echoed the sentiment of Hjulmand.

“The players are here to play football, they’re dreaming of winning the World Cup, they should be able to focus on playing,” Jensen said, adding that it was then up to him “and the leadership of the Danish FA to have the discussions on Human Rights.”

“They are absolutely free to express themselves, some of them did, but it’s also OK that some of them just want to focus on football,” he said.

FIFA, which prohibits all political messages, earlier in November urged teams to “focus on football” and not to drag it “into every ideological or political battle”.

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Denmark reduces number of areas classed as ’parallel societies’

The number of underprivileged areas termed ‘parallel societies’ by the Danish government has fallen for the third consecutive year following an annual update.

Denmark reduces number of areas classed as ’parallel societies’

The updated list of ‘parallel societies’ and vulnerable housing areas was published by the Ministry of the Interior and Housing on Thursday.

The number of housing areas classed as parallel societies falls from 12 in 2021 to 10 in the new list.

Three areas were removed from the list (Aldersrogade and Tingbjerg/Utterslevhuse, both in Copenhagen, Agervang in Holbæk), while one was added (Askerød in Greve).

The number of ‘vulnerable housing areas’ (udsatte boligområder) and ‘redevelopment areas’ (omdannelsesområder) is also lower than on the 2021 list.

A ‘redevelopment area’ or omdannelsesområde is the new term replacing ‘hard ghetto’, used for areas which have been on the parallel societies list for five consecutive years.

The terms ‘parallel society’ and ‘underprivileged housing area’ have replaced ‘ghetto’ in the government’s official descriptions, after the latter word was scrapped because it was considered to be derogatory towards marginalised areas.

The lists are important because included areas can be subject to special treatment under Danish laws.

To qualify as ‘parallel societies’, housing areas of more than 1,000 people, where more than half are of “non-Western” origin, must fulfil two of four criteria.

Areas that fulfil the criteria are then required to take measures to combat parallel societies under a 2018 law originally titled the “Ghetto Law”.

The four criteria are: more than 40 percent of residents are unemployed; more than 60 percent of 39-50 year-olds do not have an upper secondary education; crime rates three times higher than the national average; residents have a gross income 55 percent lower than the regional average.

In addition to redevelopment obligations, areas on the list can be subjected to special treatment under the law, including stricter punishments for specified crimes and a requirement for small children to attend daycare.

READ ALSO: EU court to judge residents’ discrimination case against Danish government

The decline in the number of housing areas on the three lists is a positive development, according to Solveig Råberg Tingey, CEO of BL, an organisation representing subsidised housing associations in Denmark.

“The positive trend is the result of a lot of great local work over several years with efforts in relation to jobs and education and social schemes,” Tingey told news wire Ritzau.

“It’s very important that we continue this work in the coming years,” she said.

The list of underprivileged housing areas is updated every year on December 1st.