Are Danes good sports? Are their sports commentators and stadium announcers biased? Is it fair game to boo the opposition every time they get the ball? Are their post-game victory chants in poor taste?
These questions and others are part of a debate raging on social media following Denmark’s 31-22 demolition of Norway in the final of the Men’s World Handball Championship on Sunday.
Booing and silence
The nation is justifiably euphoric. Not only have the men won their first ever world championship, but Denmark have become the first country to win all six major tournaments (men and women: Euros, Worlds and Olympics).
But the manner in which they won yesterday rankled with their opposition and other followers of the sport.
Why were the Norwegian team booed at every call? Why were the Danish commentators silent when Norway scored, only erupting at a save? Why did the stadium announcer only salute the Danish goals?
Did the commentators even mention who the game’s top goal-scorer was? You’d be forgiven for thinking Mikkel Hansen topped the charts, but two ahead of him with nine goals was Norwegian left wing Magnus Jøndal, but yet his name was barely mentioned.
Each time he strode in to score, the Danish commentators were bracing themselves to let out a blood-curdling cheer should the shot be saved. Instead, their throats emptying of the necessary saliva to make such a yell was the closest the audience got to any validation of his effort.
No more flæskesteg!
Norwegian match commentator Harald Bredeli was incensed by the crowd’s support, vowing not to eat flæskesteg (roast pork with crackling) for a whole year in protest.
“The booing against Norway, and especially [star player Sander] Sagosen, does not reflect well on the Danes,” he said.
“I’m not going to eat flæskesteg for a whole year. But on the court Denmark were crazily good. So maybe the booing helps.”
Before the match, former national player Lars Rasmussen, who now works for BT tabloid, had called for a “Balkan atmosphere” – a reference to sides like Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, where the partisan home support can be particularly vociferous.
Should have let up
Norwegian handball pundit Håvard Tvedten was particularly unimpressed that the Danish crowd continued booing Norway despite being 10 goals ahead.
“It’s unsportsmanlike when they lead by so many goals and the fight is already settled,” he told NRK.
And the NRK Facebook page was awash with similar comments, lambasting the “unsportsman-like” “unsympathetic”, “unkind” and “awfully bad” behaviour of the Danish supporters.
Several Norwegian fans present at the Jyske Bank Boxen took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
Go back to your peace pipes!
And there was some home-grown criticism as well.
The Danish economist and author Lisbeth Zornig was among many to go to Twitter to voice their displeasure, and she has even started her own poll on the subject.
“The Danish booing was so embarrassing – small-minded and out of order, and not worthy of championship winners. Who are you guys, really,” she wrote.
Unsurprisingly, there were many who disagreed.
“Hahahahah, thank you for the morning laugh. Go back to your meadow, guitar and peace pipe-smoking circle. I don’t think sport is for you,” wrote one Twitter user.
In the words of the immortal chant that tends to greet every Danish win: “Hvem var det, der vandt i dag? Det var dem fra INSERT TEAM NAME HERE af. Hey, hey, hey… Store patter!” (Who was it that won today? It was them from … Hey, hey, hey … Big tits!)
Gracious in defeat
However, there was one good sport, as Sagosen himself was gracious in defeat.
“This is handball – that’s the sport,” he noted. “The Danes must do that – I’d hope our fans would do the same.”
And the good news for Sagosen is that he won’t have to wait long as Norway is co-hosting the 2020 European Championship – with Sweden and, err, Austria.