Why are Eriksen & star players fighting with Denmark FA?

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The Tottenham star and a host of his fellow internationals are locked in a dispute with the Danish governing body - but what is it about?

Denmark will kick off the inaugural UEFA Nations League along with 54 other teams this September, but they are set to do so without stars such as Christian Eriksen.

Having reached the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia this summer it would be logical to assume that Danish football was in rude health, but a dispute between the national team players and the Denmark Football Association (DBU) has left things in a precarious position on the eve of games against Slovakia and Wales.

Indeed, DBU CEO Claus Bretton-Meyer has ominously warned that the affair could potentially send football in the country "back to the Stone Age in many areas", such is the perceived severity of the situation.

So what exactly is going on in the state of Denmark? Goal takes a look at the argument, what the repercussions are and more.


What is the dispute between Denmark's players & association?


The stand-off between the Danish national team players and the DBU has arisen over a disagreement on a new deal concerning match fees and commercial rights.

Stars such as Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Andreas Christensen are among those in the Danish Players' Union who are refusing to play in the upcoming games until their conditions are met by the DBU.

In the week leading up to the games, the Players' Union sought to resolve the issue by reaching out to the DBU and suggesting that the old deal could be renewed for one month, a scenario which would see the players make themselves available for selection for the two games. They would then "have time after...to negotiate the entire agreement".

"We have to solve this conflict now, not just digging the ditches deeper," Eriksen said in a statement on the Union's website. "So we're happy to stretch our hand again, even though DBU put it away on the first try."

Christian Eriksen Denmark

The Spurs star added: "We could all be home in our clubs who pay our wages - at home by our wives and children. We are not here for the money.

"We are here because we love to play for Denmark - and proud of the many millions we play for children and the breadth of Danish football, and the work we do for the whole of Danish football."

However, despite their apparent efforts, no resolution appears to have been found yet.


Will Denmark play amateur & futsal players?


When it became clear that the established players would not back down in their threat of a boycott, the DBU had to contend with the possibility of not being able to field a team in their upcoming friendly against Slovakia, as well as their Nations League opener against Wales.

Failure to field a team in a UEFA competition such as the Nations League would inevitably result in punitive measures being inflicted on the association by the European governing body, so they have called up an alternative set of players out of desperation.

A squad consisting entirely of uncapped players, who ply their trades in the lower rungs of Danish football, and futsal (small-sided indoor football) players has been named.

Denmark squad for games against Slovakia & Wales

Position Denmark squad
Goalkeepers Bank, Haagh, Larsen
Defenders Bannis, Bertelsen, Christensen, Hansen, Johansen, D. Nielsen, Skraep
Midfielders Gaudin, Fogt, Hunsballe, Hojbye, Jakobsen, Johansson, Jorgensen, Kempel, Vollesen
Forwards Fons, T.C. Nielsen, Offenberg, Holm, Veis

As well as the players, Denmark will be without their head coach Age Hareide, who has also become involved in the dispute, siding with his players. Former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen has been appointed as the national team's interim head coach as a result.

"When I say yes to help here, it's because I feel very strongly for the national team as an institution and because I think the most important thing must be that the games will be played," said Jensen.

"I just hope to get us through the two matches and that the parties find a solution as soon as possible."

When do they play?

Denmark played Slovakia on Wednesday, September 5 and lost 3-0, in what interim boss Jensen described as "the best defeat of [his] career".

"We got 24 heroes who were called in about 48 hours ago," he told a news conference. "And [they] play in a very low division compared to Slovakia, who have got world-class players.

"I'm proud, I'm shocked. These players that were on the pitch, and also these players that didn't come on the pitch, the friendship and what they did was absolutely amazing and I will never forget this defeat. This is my best defeat in my career."

They are scheduled to take on Wales in the Nations League on Sunday, September 9, but it is possible that the dispute could be resolved before the competitive game against the Dragons.


Will UEFA punish Denmark?


Kasper Schmeichel Denmark

The DBU will certainly be fined by UEFA if it does not field a team in the upcoming games, particularly the Nations League match against Wales. 

"It is a deeply regrettable situation we are in, for the team, fans and for all in Danish football," DBU CEO Claus Bretton-Meyer said in a statement. 

"We had hoped that the players would meet when we offered them the same fee, bonus, paid insurance and better flight, cook and treatment conditions. Now we are working to get the best possible players to play the two matches for Denmark. 

"It is crucial for the future of Danish football. If the games are not played, we may be fighting millions of fines and exclusions for both national teams - and Danish football will be returned to the Stone Age in many areas."

Having announced a squad for the games and appointing an interim coach it looks like Denmark will indeed fulfil their fixture obligations, which means that they would, in theory, avoid punishment.

However, even if they do manage to play both games, the entire affair has been an unseemly one, which has arguably brought the game into disrepute - something UEFA does not treat lightly.

Indeed, fielding a team made up of futsal players and semi-professionals who play in the lower divisions in a competition such as the Nations League over a dispute about money could be seen as compromising the integrity of the game.

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Furthermore, the Republic of Ireland, who are in the same Nations League group as Denmark, could argue that the dispute has had the effect of giving an unfair advantage to Wales - certainly if a weakened team is fielded against Ryan Giggs' team in Aarhus on Sunday.

"If it does develop this way there would certainly be a degree of unfairness about it," said Ireland boss O'Neill. "I think everyone would accept that if Denmark play players from lower divisions against Wales then it certainly gives them a massive advantage.

"I think UEFA probably should [act], and will as well, if it develops in the direction that it looks as if it is going. UEFA will have to make some sort of statement about it then."

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