Christian Values

Christian Wenande´s Danish/American background caters well to a city brimming with cultural diversity and strife. The CPH Post journalist loves life in Copenhagen but yearns for the indomitable mountains, rolling prairie and starry nights of his Wyoming sanctuary.

It´s that time of year again. That time when crowds amass to witness Vikings on the rampage. Tigers mauling Wolves. Lions devouring Horses.  Is it a day out at the Roman Colosseum, or the Copenhagen Zoo perhaps? No, I´m talking about football.

Last weekend, the second half of the Superliga season kicked off after three months of non-footballing agony with the promise that this could be the most exciting finish to a Danish football season in years. Top that off with the exciting Euro 2016 draw and there´s no denying that the ball is once again on the roll in Denmark.

But wait! I sense dissention in the ranks. Well, actually that´s misleading. Ranks would imply that you were actually part of it in the first place. It´s more like dissent among the ostracised. The foreigners. The expats. Apparently, someone forgot to tell the lords of football that someone other than Danes might enjoy taking their kids to a Sunday match with all the hotdogs and beer that accompanies the experience.

Out of the 12 Superliga teams, just half offer information in English on their websites, while the national football association, DBU, continues to disregard the fact that football is a global sport and that the country is striving to become an international hub in the region. The DBU website offers exactly zero information in English.

The national team has been battling dwindling spectator numbers in recent years and there were just 14,284 fans in Parken when Olsen´s boys lost 0-4 to Armenia – the lowest crowd number for a World Cup qualifier in 33 years.

When I looked into the possibility of them reaching out to the international community, a DBU source informed me that a study had showed that it was not financially viable for the association to have the website in English. I was also told that statistics indicated that not many non-Danish people used the website. Well, no shit. Why would people use a website in a language that they can´t understand?

A quick search on the respective websites of Denmark´s upcoming qualification opponents revealed that every nation´s football federation website had an English version except for Albania. In fact, a slightly more diligent search showed that the vast majority of the national federations with teams trying to qualify to Euro 2016 offered an English version of their website. Among the more unlikely candidates who had English information on their sites were Latvia, Georgia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan for Christ´s sake!

A recent report by the think-tank Copenhagen Economics showed that Copenhagen was rated particularly poor at being able to welcome foreigners and integrate them into society, which leads to many of them  leaving after a short period of time. I may be overreaching a bit here, but sport and entertainment is part of the same package. The poet Lord Byron once uttered: “When falls the Colosseum, Rome shall fall.” A bit dramatic I know, but that´s what sporting events are these days. Modern spectacles of public appeasement.

The international community won´t necessarily need details about everything, but general information, game info, ticket prices and promotions would help involve the international community. And who knows, DBU might just get some lifetime Denmark fans out of the bargain. After all, football fans can be fickle beasts these days and could be quick to adopt the red and whites. If they only knew more about them.