NLP Column By Adam Ellis
23 years on from the landmark introduction of the Bosman rule, last week saw another instance of player power carving into football’s status quo with Denmark players holding a strike over their commercial rights.
The holdout by the likes of Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Lasse Schone was the result of an in-house conflict between players and the Danish FA over their own individual sponsor deals and the national team sponsor, Hummel.
The dispute saw the Danish FA resort to calling up players from the third tier of its football pyramid as well as futsal players for the international friendly against a full-strength Slovakia side.
All the talk was whether the Denmark FA (DBU) could save face and reach a middle ground before the match in Trnava as well as a competitive match which followed against Wales. For the first match, they couldn’t.
Ticket prices for the Slovakia game were slashed to €1 and, with little to be expected from their team, Denmark’s makeshift side was defeated 3-0. Which isn’t exactly a drubbing by any means for a team hastily assembled like a Frankenstein.
Humiliation for the DBU was averted in time for the UEFA Nations League clash with Wales on Sunday. Out of a situation spawned from the politics of sports business, let’s not forget that the players from the third tier have a national team cap.
When speaking to players from our own lower leagues who have won England C honours, they describe it as a ‘very proud moment’ to represent your country and a ‘privilege’.
Here are three other times football has been downright barmy.
Robert Hoyzer and Germany’s referee fixing scandal – 2005
German official Robert Hoyzer came under the microscope from the powers at the DFB after a cup match involving Hamburg and Paderborn when he awarded two penalties and also sent off a Hamburg player.
Having initially pleaded his innocence, Hoyzer then confessed to being complicit in a £1.1m scandal which went beyond the German Cup and also affected the Bundesliga 2 and third division Regionalliga leagues.
An organised crime faction from Croatia as behind the rigging of the betting market which threatened the integrity of the FIFA World Cup Germany was set to host less than 12 months on from the court proceedings against Hoyzer and other officials and players implicated in the scandal.
Hoyzer was banned from football for life and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, while five others were also handed custodial sentences.
Roy Keane slurs manager Mick McCarthy ahead of Ireland’s World Cup in Japan – 2002
A difference in opinion which derailed Ireland’s World Cup preparations for the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Midfielder Keane saw no reason to bite his tongue over the way manager Mick McCarthy had led to team to only the third World Cup in the country’s history.
In a row at a pre-tournament training camp, Keane ranted at McCarthy in front of his team-mates calling the manager “a liar” and a “f****** w*****”.
Goalkeeper Shay Given described the exchange as a “a total destruction of Mick, personally and professionally”.
Keane was sent home from the camp in disgrace and wouldn’t feature at the World Cup. Draws against Cameroon and Germany and a 3-0 win over Saudi Arabia led to the Irish progressing to the Round of 16, where they met Spain and lost on penalties 3-2.
McCarthy was sacked after the tournament and Ireland have failed to reach a World Cup since.
10 players sent off after mass brawl – Vitoria v Bahia, 2018
There’s something about South American football and short-fused tempers. No surprises then when a yellow card was brandished within the first minute of play between Brazil top-flight rivals Victoria and Bahia.
Despite a flurry of yellow cards nothing appeared out of the ordinary during a first-half display which saw Vitoria hold the lead 1-0 at the interval. This was the first time in three seasons sets of supporters from both teams were allowed to attend the match. But it was on the pitch not in the stands that the match would descend into chaos.
Four minutes into the second half a converted penalty by Bahia’s Vinicius led to a ‘crude’ celebration in front of the opponent’s supporters, something Vitoria goalkeeper Fernando Miguel didn’t take too kindly to. And after confronting Vinicius he was backed up in violent ways by his team-mates who unloaded punches on their opponents.
The furore was brought under control after 16 minutes when the referee dismissed a total of eight players; five from Bahia and three from Vitoria.
Incredibly, the match went on but it would not last the full 90 minutes as on the verge of the 80th minute as two more players were shown red cards, reducing Vitoria to six players and leading to the match being abandoned.