Denmark reach a contract stalemate with DBU

Euro 2017 runners-up on the verge of striking.

Denmark reach a contract stalemate with DBU
Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

New contract negotiations between the Danish national team and Dansk Boldspils-Union (DBU) have stalled, leaving the players on the verge of striking ahead of their first 2019 World Cup qualifier.

Impasse

With their existing deal having just elapsed the Danish national team – who only last month reached their first ever European final – went to the table to hash out a new deal for themselves and the U21 men’s team. But, as fans have seen multiple times this year already, the team and federation were at opposite ends of the spectrum, the women asking for an increase from their last deal and the DBU saying, “no”. Danish football fans will already be all too aware of what their federation can be like, the men’s team taken nearly to the point of striking in 2015 over a similar dispute.

DBU communications manager Jakob Høyer has suggested that the team are asking for simply too much money, the draft from the Spillerforeningen (Players Association) asking for five to ten times the current amount. But for team captain, Pernille Harder, the extra funding in necessary for the team to grow and challenge just as the DBU want as she stated when speaking to DR, “We are ambitious []. In order to achieve the goals of World Cup and Olympic participation, it requires better frameworks and better terms.

Saying also, “We must have a strong collective agreement that respects our basic rights and assures us fundamental rights, for example, equal treatment and statutory occupational injury insurance.

Given an extra handful of days to reach an agreement to cover the men’s U21 qualifier after the deal elapsed, the two parties left the table leaving everyone in a state of limbo, the players state they’re willing to negotiate “day and night” to come to a suitable deal. A fact that directly contradicts what the DBU have said, suggesting that it was the players who walked away from the talks – something Sanne Troelsgaard has strongly refuted.

Extra points of note 

  • The team parted ways with coach Nils Nielsen last month after his contract ran out and Søren Randa-Boldt has been put in interim charge.
  • The Spillerforeningen was offered another extension to cover the WWC qualifier but they declined.
  • Denmark are due to play the Netherlands in Horsens next Friday and have sold-out the 10, 400 capacity stadium.
  • Only the top team from each seven UEFA qualifying groups will be confirmed a spot at the World Cup with the top four second-based teams going into a play-off.
  • Denmark haven’t appeared at a World Cup since 2007.

Employer-employee 

However, not just an issue with the money the players are, in essence, asking to be thought of as employees of the DBU – something that isn’t commonplace in Denmark – and the federation aren’t willing to become employers. In a statement put out on the DBU site Høyer has said, “National team players are employed in the clubs and only there.“

With such a tricky issue involved the DBU has taken steps to converse with other federations about “employing” their players and have received the support of the Danmarks Idrætsforbund (Danish Sports Association) as well as Team Danmark. The feeling from both that it’s not an employer-employee situation when you’re asked to represent your country, Team Danmark particularly weary of the ramifications of that kind of change in thinking.

With the two unable to reach an agreement another nugget emerged in the press yesterday that the players had yet to receive their bonus for finishing second at the Euros, the DBU overdue on settling what was owed. “Disappointed and disrespected,” the words used by stalwart, Theresa Nielsen about the issue. Høyer admitted that the federation had made a mistake and things had taken longer than they expected but assured the money was being paid yesterday.

But where does that leave the team with two matches later this month?
At present, the team has no plans to convene on Monday ahead of their sold-out friendly against the Netherlands in a replay of the Euro final. And as for the World Cup qualifier, the DBU could be forced to send a back-up team in place if they can not agree to new terms with the Spillerforeningen – who are certainly not afraid to strike.