Friday, September 17, 2021

“More than a game”: Denmark’s euro delusion despite UK travel setback | Denmark

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People dancing on buses is not something you see every day in Denmark. Danes who play by the rules tend to keep their celebrations low-key, but not this summer.

Soccer fans paralyzed traffic in Aarhus after Denmark beat the Czech Republic in the Euro 2020 quarterfinals and even scaled public transport to convey their euphoria and launch another round of Re-sepp-ten, first a success for the Danish national team at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. The lyrics to the hymn, from public sources, are laden with images by Hans Christian Andersen and feel particularly fitting this year.

“It has been such an emotional time for everyone, but especially for Danish football,” says Karina Hansford, 45, referring to midfielder Christian Eriksen’s collapse after cardiac arrest during Denmark’s game against Finland on June 12. “We have all experienced losses from the pandemic, so what happened with Eriksen triggered a lot of strong feelings,” says Morten Pelch, 40, adding: “At the time, all of Denmark was holding their breath.”

“It was a reminder that life can be short,” says Hansford. “My first reaction was to think about their children and what would happen to them. But Eriksen’s teammates handled it so well that it was pure instinct – they formed a protective shield around him so the cameras couldn’t reach him. “

Eriksen was taken to the hospital while the world waited. Once the news came that it was stable, the decision was made to restart the game. “Although by then, the game did not matter,” says Pelch. “The result was second.” Denmark lost, but Eriksen’s collapse was the only thing that could be talked about for days in the country. “No matter who you met, they were still in shock,” says Pelch.

“What happened perfectly showed how soccer is more than just a game,” says 34-year-old Anne Nielsen. “It’s also about humanity and what we value in life, like togetherness; team spirit and fight for the ones you love. I think almost everyone in Denmark felt this. “

Pelch compares the increased sense of excitement and camaraderie to a spirit of war: “People began to unite in a way almost like when Denmark was liberated from occupation after World War II.”

Danish fans in the group stage match against Russia, in which they qualified for the round of 16. Photographer: Friedemann Vogel / Reuters

But Denmark’s Euro 2020 campaign has also offered life lessons for the future, the Danes say. Coach and former player Kasper Hjulmand He apologized for the decision to continue playing after Eriksen’s collapse. “He said ‘I’m wrong and I’m sorry,’ which is pretty brave, ‘says Pelch. “Accept failure, that sometimes when we are wrong, we must admit it and apologize, in doing so, it has become an icon for our leaders.”

Hjulmand has also been praised for fostering a new model of masculinity in Denmark. “He talks a lot about emotions and feelings, and he tells the team that it’s okay to accept them,” says Pelch. “He’s showing men that in 2021, it’s not about being tough or tough, it’s about being present and being kind. It teaches that there is strength in unity; that you have to be there for your teammates; And when someone is depressed, you help them up. ‘

Once the Danes knew that Erikson was okay, there was a feeling that the players had the only way to do it.

“Now, it feels like all of Denmark has been waiting for a big party,” says Hansford. “‘Euphoric’ is probably the word that describes how many Danes are feeling right now,” adds Nielsen. “People really want to be together in person after the long Covid winter.” The demand for giant screens showing games in public has skyrocketed, the atmosphere is electrifying and the only regret for many is not being able to see the game in person.

British authorities have refused to allow Danish fans to travel to the UK for the semi-final due to coronavirus restrictions. The fans are disappointed but optimistic. “When the Vikings left Denmark to conquer the world, there weren’t that many either,” says Pelch. “But they were still victorious.”

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