The Football authorities in Denmark are caught between a rock and a hard place but it is the business men who have built up both barriers
Those of you who like to bet on sport in Denmark, of which there are many who perhaps use ComeOn! Sportsbook or the like, will probably already be aware that there’s an inherent incongruity that blankets the small nation’s sporting efforts. This small nation of just over five and a half million people now a microcosm of a far wider problem in sports that effects just about every country where sport isn’t run by the central government and it’s agencies. The problem? Catch-22.
The principle of Catch-22 is laid out in Joseph Heller’s book of the same title in which Yosarian, a US bomber pilot in World War II, discovers that his not wanting to fly dangerous missions proves he’s sane and therefore he has no legitimate mental health reason not to fly them, and that to prove he is insane he would have to carry on flying the dangerous missions anyway. This theme of a cyclic trap of logic is repeated throughout this seminal work on the insanity of war, and indeed is all too common beyond it.
Catch-22 In Sport
• Denmark demonstrates
• Tennis star wins again
• Football flounders fiscally
The concept of a lose-lose situation will be familiar to all of us, one would find it almost impossible to be human and not encounter one or two along life’s highways and byways. My own favorite example being my wonderful wife angrily shouting at me “You’re just going to do what I want again, aren’t you?” A question to which, manifestly, there is no acceptable answer and leaves a chap with absolutely nowhere to go, metaphysically speaking (except the pub for some liquid logic lubrication).
In sports, however, the Catch-22 is a little less evident, but of no less of an overall influence, and is, most lamentably, centered around money. The basic reality is that in modern day sports success attracts money, but, as many individuals and clubs will attest, you have to have money to be successful. The truly mercenary nature of the sponsors, as representatives of poisonous capitalism, unfortunately having a massive knock-on effect on the sports we get to see.
DBU Does The Dirty On The Danes
The Danish football association that has called for players representing their country to take a 17% cut in payment has done itself no favors in handling negotiations with the players in a manner best reserved for a petulant five year old, with William Kvist, Wigan midfielder, saying “I think that the DBU board is trying to make fools of us players, fans and sponsors. It’s odd that the DBU sent people to negotiations yesterday who can’t negotiate. Most of all it’s a waste of time for all parties.”
The DBU claims it is facing harsh economic realities, but given the product is football you’d not think there would be much risk in gambling news of an international fixture of the most popular game on the planet might raise more interest in the sport. The fact the DBU wants to enter into individual rather than collective agreements has also come under criticism from players with former Everton defender Lars Jacobsen saying “Forget the un-Danish idea of individual agreements. It is not going to happen.”
The DBU in return has said that players who do not accept their new terms will not be selected to play, thus depriving the country and fans of the best possible team. The fact that the Danish football authorities are willing to sell out their country, the fans and indeed the players over money says just about everything you need to know about the pernicious influence cash is having on the sports we love so much and creating a lose-lose situation.
If the DBU fail to pick the best team, they’ll get crap results, if they get crap results they’ll get less revenue, with less revenue they’ll have to pay less, and with less pay comes the issue of players not being eligible to be picked for not accepting the wage cut. Of course the DBU probably wouldn’t have to cut players wages if the FIFA leadership didn’t waste quite so much and shared the wealth with the smaller footballing nations to a far larger extent than it does at present.
The Same 3% But All The Difference
Football is the most popular sport in Denmark yet is asking its leading players to take a pay cut, perhaps the burdensome costs of a DBU bureaucracy scything away the revenues, but a 3% fall in attendances apparently means international players need to give up 17% of their cash, which is odd, because another sport that has fallen in popularity by around 3% is Tennis, only the 8th most popular sport in the country, and there’s no shortage of cash there.
Caroline Wozniacki won her 23rd title in Kuala Lumpur at the Malaysian Open losing the first set but battling back to take the next two comfortably against Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru. Caroline Wozniacki isn’t being asked to take a pay cut. Her sponsors, e-Boks wax lyrical about her on their website and provide her with all the funds she needs to keep playing tennis around the world despite the contraction in the Danish fanbase.
Of course the sponsor would point to the fact she wins, perhaps comparing that to Danish football that has, over the last decade, faded a little from its glory days in the nineties. The money has literally ebbed out of football as businesses take their sponsorship and commercialism to other more profitable areas, but in doing so they doom football to lose even more revenue, perpetuating the cycle of collapse. This then is the Catch-22 when a sport cannot get the money it needs to be successful enough to get money.
The fiscal interests in sport are a necessary evil, but the degree to which they can be allowed to effect the very sports they sought to take advantage of for their own brand awareness should worry everyone, and if you’re Danish gambling laws of economics won’t apply to such a small nation, the worrying truth is that it already is, and when the Danish national team square off against the US it’ll be money that decides who plays, not skill and ability.