Denmark’s new rivals are across the North Sea

The English liberated Copenhagen in 1945 to end the five-year Nazi Occupation, but that counted for little when the nations clashed in the semi-finals at Euro 2020 and the Velodrome at the Tokyo Olympics

Denmark and England have been striking up quite a rivalry this summer. 

First, there was Brexit and various fishing quarrels, then the football – and yes, before you ask, the Brits did go on to claim a gold in the diving – and then ‘that cycling incident’ at the Olympics.

Sure, we’re talking about a spat with the British team, but most Danes seem pretty oblivious to there being anything other than England across the North Sea, so this is more of the same!

As Frederick Madsen walked away – just moments after screaming at the prostrate British cyclist who he had just ploughed into the back of, bringing the semi-final of the 4,000-metre pursuit to an abrupt end – he was heard to bellow: “Fuck them!”

The question is whether Madsen was talking about the men’s pursuit team or, given the nature of the fallout of Denmark’s elimination from Euro 2020, an entire nation.

Blame the keeper!
Kasper Schmeichel’s to blame for all this, of course, as everything had been just dandy until he started questioning the chorus of the song ‘Three Lions’ which claims (more than once” that “football’s coming home”. 

“Has it ever been home? I mean, have you ever won it?” the Leicester City keeper said at a press conference ahead of the quarter-finals. Their father had spoken, and the homogenous nation that is Denmark spoke as one.

Adam Wells, an England fan in Copenhagen, found this out moments after cheering Denmark in their win over the Czechs – a warm-up of his lungs ahead of his side’s clash against Ukraine.

“We started singing ‘Three Lions’ after Denmark beat the Czechs, and some Danes screamed: ‘No, it is not fucking coming home’,” he recalled. 

Makes a change from ‘Vi er rød, vi er hvid’ though.

History lessons
Other English fans also noticed a much-changed mood ahead of the semi.

“It was horrible at work,” complained Jim Goodley, a carpenter from Gentofte.

“Every day I receive something new. Pictures of Vikings: ‘Remember the last time we invaded’. Or captions like ‘Three footballing superpowers … but never underestimate England’.”

It certainly didn’t help that the UK government wasn’t allowing Danish fans to attend − a decision that CPH POST described as “the biggest affront to this country since the British Navy firebombed Copenhagen in 1807 [which] some observers might even go as far as to say it’s cheating”.

Cited by the Daily Mail, the flames were being fanned in the media!

Quickly turned nasty
Still, it was mostly humorous. English and Danish tabloid newspapers The Sun and BT exchanged ads in their editions on the day of the big game.

BT’s ad in The Sun was an illustration of seven Vikings with the caption: “It’s not coming home … We’re coming home!” While The Sun’s ad in BT displayed a bacon sandwich with the caption “We will eat you for breakfast”.

But when England eventually prevailed 2-1 in extra time thanks to a disputed penalty, the Danish public were further disgusted by the confirmation that a laser pen was dangerously shone at Schmeichel’s face as he faced the penalty, and that British-based Danish families were menaced and spat at by hooligans as they returned to their homes.

After all that, judging by the incendiary articles in the national media and often venomous comments across social media, there was no doubt who Denmark wanted to win in the final against Italy.

Italians of the North
Venues such as Ofelia Plads in Copenhagen were accordingly drowning in Danes sporting Italian colours and, true to their custom, they ended up throwing more beer at the English fans in attendance than they actually drank.

To be fair, it was mostly soaked up without incident by a nation that has grown accustomed to drinking rain, obliviously daring to dream they might finish the evening victorious.

But yet another penalty shootout later ensured the Danes in attendance had the final word as they jeered the heartbroken English fans leaving the venue.

Well, they did have one Dane on their side.

“My daughter won’t admit she’s English, my son’s the same about being Danish. My wife just hopes England wins because she can’t bear the thought of how miserable we’ll be,” Goodley remarked ahead of the semi.

Those disgraceful Danes!
And then, following the cycling incident, it was more of the same. After all, with his head firmly bowed, Madsen wasn’t even looking where he was going, so why should he blame the Brit?

Commenters on the BBC website were outraged, calling Madsen’s behaviour both “outrageous” and “disgraceful”, perhaps hopeful that their vitriol might somehow aid the disqualification of the Danish team. 

“Disgraceful behaviour from Denmark shouting at Team GB – it was their fault!” said one. “His insurance company won’t be paying out on that claim; the Dane just wasn’t paying attention,” chimed another.

“As the lead rider in the team, you always have to keep your eyes on the team you’re pursuing. It’s called the pursuit for good reason,” added former Olympic champ Chris Hoy.

  • How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    How internationals can benefit from joining trade unions

    Being part of a trade union is a long-established norm for Danes. But many internationals do not join unions – instead enduring workers’ rights violations. Find out how joining a union could benefit you, and how to go about it.

  • Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals in Denmark rarely join a trade union

    Internationals are overrepresented in the lowest-paid fields of agriculture, transport, cleaning, hotels and restaurants, and construction – industries that classically lack collective agreements. A new analysis from the Workers’ Union’s Business Council suggests that internationals rarely join trade unions – but if they did, it would generate better industry standards.

  • Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    Novo Nordisk overtakes LEGO as the most desirable future workplace amongst university students

    The numbers are especially striking amongst the 3,477 business and economics students polled, of whom 31 percent elected Novo Nordisk as their favorite, compared with 20 percent last year.