Jensen to take charge of Denmark as player row rumbles on

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Former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen will take charge of Denmark’s UEFA Nations League opener against Wales after the row which has rocked Danish football took an extraordinary twist.

Denmark’s preparations for the game in Aarhus on Sunday are in turmoil over the bitter dispute concerning the players’ commercial rights.

The Danish Football Association (DBU) is set to field a team consisting of domestic players rather than Premier League-based stars such as Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Andreas Christensen.

Denmark are playing Slovakia in a friendly on Wednesday and DBU
director Claus Bretton-Meyer told the Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) that they have selected a squad drawn from the first and second divisions of the domestic league.

It has also been reported in Denmark that members of the national Futsal squad, an indoor five-a-side game played with a smaller and harder ball, will feature in the squad.

The DBU confirmed that the 53-year-old Jensen will be in charge of the Slovakia and Wales games rather than national-team coach Age Hareide.

“Where we are now, I see only losers in the conflict, and Danish football loses most of all,” Jensen told the official DBU website.

“When I say yes to help here, it’s because I feel very, very strong for the national team as an institution, and because I think the most important thing must be that the games will be played after all.”

Jensen, who is noted for scoring in Denmark’s Euro 1992 final victory against Germany, spent eight months coaching in the Premier League at Blackburn in 2011.

He went on to become a consultant at Brondby and spent fours years in charge of Danish club Fremad Amager between 2014 and 2018.

“I do not consider the matter between DBU and the players, my yes is not an expression of it,” Jensen said. “I just hope to help us get through the two matches and that the parties find a solution as soon as possible.

“The national team has meant infinitely much to me in my career and in my life.

“It hurts to follow this course, and I hope my contribution can help mitigate the negative consequences.”

Denmark, who reached the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia this summer and are ninth in the FIFA rankings, have been beset by internal problems over the past 12 months.

The national women’s team boycotted a World Cup qualifier against Sweden in October 2017 in a dispute over employment conditions.

Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win and UEFA fined the DBU £18,000, and also warned that Denmark would be barred from UEFA tournaments if it cancelled another match in the next four years.

So failing to play Wales would almost certainly see Denmark expelled from the 2020 European Championship.

DBU elite manager Kim Hallberg said: “We must hold teams in the two international matches to avoid millions of fines and possible exclusion of the national team for several years.

“On behalf of DBU and Danish football, I am pleased that John Faxe Jensen has taken the hard task of being coach in both matches.”

Tottenham midfielder Eriksen had earlier called for a truce in the row and said Denmark’s players were willing to play the two games under the terms of the old commercial rights agreement.

“We have to solve this conflict now, not just digging the ditches deeper,” Eriksen said on the Danish Players’ Association website.

“So we’re happy to stretch our hand again, even though DBU put it away in the first try.

“Let’s renew the old deal by one month. Then we have organised relationships right now and we are prepared to play the international matches this week.

“Sign up and we will sit on the plane immediately. We are ready and we will play.”

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