Denmark players faced ‘violent personal attacks’ in dispute

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s players say they were subject to “overly violent personal attacks” during a contract dispute with the country’s soccer association.

Denmark was forced to field a severely weakened lineup containing some futsal players for a friendly against Slovakia last month after the collapse of negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement regarding commercial rights.

A temporary agreement was reached, allowing the top players to be available for a UEFA Nations League game against Wales days later, and a new agreement was finalized at the end of September through 2024.

In an open letter written on behalf of the national team and published Monday, three of Denmark’s top players — Christian Eriksen, Kasper Schmeichel and Simon Kjaer — say they fought for a better deal at a time when the team “is under pressure from … the big clubs and their competitions, where the big money is in football.”

The players praised the “1,000 players” who refused the chance to play against Slovakia in support of the players’ union.

Denmark plays Ireland on Saturday in their second game in the Nations League.