Denmark stars replaced with futsal players due to rights dispute
Denmark have named a squad of 24 unknowns, including futsal players, for Wednesday's away friendly in Slovakia.
The ninth-ranked nation in the world is also likely to be below strength for their UEFA Nations League clash with Wales on Sunday 9th September.
The situation has arisen after first-team players refused to sign a new team agreement with the Danish football association (DBU) for commercial and branding reasons.
As well as Tottenham's Christian Eriksen and Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel, players from the Danish Superliga and the First Division are also absent.
The DBU's solution has been to call up players from the third and fourth tier, and five members of Denmark's national futsal squad for their last match against Greenland in May.
The DBU risked a substantial fine and possible suspension from Euro 2020 if they forfeited the matches, and they sent out letters to Danish 1st Division and 2nd Division clubs encouraging players to commit to Denmark.
Twenty-four players accepted but only 23 will feature on the squad list as per UEFA regulations.
And here they are. Waiting for the bus in Bratislava.
With so many new faces, Danish commentator Andreas Kraul has had to ask for a helping hand on Twitter.
“Help! I’m going to commentate tonight and for the first time ever I’m (almost) completely lost in my preparations. But you guys out there, you have tons of bonus information on the Danish players tonight. Who are they – as players and humans?”
The bizarre turn of events has been met with humour on social media.
“Heard in different workplaces yesterday afternoon: “Boss, can I take a day off on Wednesday? I’m going to kick some ball in Slovakia. I will be back again on Thursday.”
Coach Åge Hareide and assistant coach Jon Dahl Tomasson will not be in charge after the DBU decided they should not be responsible for a team they have not selected.
Consequently, UEFA Euro '92 winner John ‘Faxe’ Jensen will take over for this match.
But he looks to have his work cut out.
On Sunday, the DBU rejected an offer by Spillerforeningen, the Danish Football Players' Association, to play the two upcoming matches under the same conditions as their previous deal.
Eriksen, Denmark's biggest star, expressed his dismay at the decision and restated the offer.
"Let's move on, DBU. We are right here and we want to play football for Denmark, as always.
"Let's renew the old deal by one month. And then we have time after the two international matches to negotiate the entire agreement in place. Sign up and we will be on the plane immediately." - Christian Eriksen on the Danish Player Association website, Spillerforeningen
If there is no swift resolution, Denmark will also field a squad of unknowns for their UEFA Nations League opener against Ryan Giggs' Wales on Sunday.
This is not the first time international players have fallen out with the DBU.
Last October, the country’s women's team boycotted a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Sweden following a similar dispute.
The DBU was subsequently fined 20,000 euro with Sweden awarded a 3-0 win, and UEFA has warned that Denmark could be ruled out of future tournaments if another match is cancelled within the next four years.
In view of Denmark's weakened side, the Slovakian FA have slashed ticket prices to one euro apiece.
Via an official statement on Tuesday, they said that if a ticket had been purchased for 26 euro, 25 euro would be refunded to the buyer.