Gylfi Sigurðsson Returns to National Football Team

Footballer

Åge Hareide has announced the squad for Iceland’s upcoming UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying matches, with Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson returning after a nearly three-year absence, Vísir reports. Iceland will face Luxembourg on October 13 and Liechtenstein on October 16.

Gylfi Þór returns, Jóhann Berg absent

Åge Hareide, the head coach of the Icelandic men’s national football team, has unveiled the squad for the upcoming matches in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament, which includes two home fixtures against Luxembourg and Liechtenstein, Vísir reports.

The former captain, Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, now playing with Lyngby in the Danish Superliga, makes his return to the national team after a near three-year absence; Gylfi’s last appearance for Iceland was on November 15, 2020, in a match against Denmark at Parken.

In an interview with Vísir today, Hareide stated: “I have spoken with him a few times. Gylfi is one of Iceland’s best players from the beginning. He got injured recently but is already feeling much better. I want to have him around us; he is very important to us. I want to integrate him into our plans with the national team. He will have a very good and strong impact on us.”

The roster also sees the inclusion of Aron Einar Gunnarsson, despite a hiatus from football in recent months, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen, who earned a recall to the national team following commendable performances with Lyngby. Conversely, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, a player for the English Premier League club Burnley, missed out on selection, likely due to injury concerns.

Iceland is set to kick off their campaign against Luxembourg at Laugardalsvöllur on October 13, followed by a clash with Liechtenstein three days later. Iceland currently sits in fourth place in the J group with six points after six rounds have been played. Their most recent outings concluded with a 3-1 defeat to Luxembourg on foreign soil and a 1-0 triumph over Bosnia & Herzegovina at home.

Central Bank Breaks Rate Hike Streak Amid Economic Slowdown

Central Bank Ásgeir Jónsson seðlabankastjóri

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Iceland has halted a trend of interest rate hikes by maintaining the key interest rate at 9.25%. The committee’s decision to hold steady comes in the face of economic uncertainty, with future monetary policy adjustments hinging on the evolving economic conditions, inflation trends, and inflation expectations.

A notable slowdown in economic momentum

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Iceland has decided to keep the bank’s interest rate at its current level. Consequently, the principal interest rate, denoted by the seven-day fixed deposit rate, will continue to stand at 9.25%. This was disclosed in a formal announcement from the Central Bank.

This decision marks a departure from the previous trend, where the key interest rates had been consecutively raised fourteen times. According to the announcement: “Overall, the development of economic matters has been in line with the committee’s assessment during the last meeting. Inflation has resurged, measuring at 8% in September. Inflation excluding housing also increased, although the underlying inflation has slightly eased. Indications are that the frequency of price increases has diminished, and they are not as widespread as before. Although inflation expectations remain excessively high, they have decreased to some extent according to some benchmarks.”

The announcement notes that economic growth measured 5.8% in the earlier part of the year, while it was over 7% last year. Hence, there has been a notable slowdown in economic momentum. Indications suggest a further slowing of demand in the third quarter of the year. However, there is some tension in the labour market and the economy. The real interest rates of the bank have increased over the course of the year, and the effects of the bank’s interest rate hikes are becoming more pronounced.

“At this juncture, there is some uncertainty regarding economic progression and whether the current restraint is adequate. The committee has therefore decided to hold steady, but in the next meeting, a new national economic and inflation forecast of the bank will be available. Monetary policy will henceforth be guided by the development of economic conditions, inflation, and inflation expectations,” the announcement reads.

Women, Non-Binary Persons, to Go on Full-Day Strike in October

Iceland’s BSRB federation and 31 associations are organising a strike on October 24 to address gender-based violence and the undervaluing of women-dominated professions, Mbl.is reports. Inspired by the 1975 women’s strike, the demonstration places special emphasis on non-binary individuals, aiming to challenge patriarchal subordination across all gender identities.

Can’t wait any longer

While there has been progress in the fight for women’s rights in Iceland, there is still a long way to go, Sonja Ýr Þorbergsdóttir, Chair of the BSRB Federation of Workers Unions, told Mbl.is yesterday. BSRB is among 31 associations orchestrating a widespread strike of women and non-binary individuals (i.e. kvár) on Tuesday, October 24.

According to Sonja, the organisers of the strike hope that this year’s demonstration will surpass the turnout of the seminal 1975 Icelandic women’s strike when about 90% of women in Iceland ceased work to underline the significance of women in the labour market and within society.

“The seeds for holding a women’s strike this year were sown around the 40th anniversary of the Women’s List (a feminist political party that took part in national politics between 1983 and 1999.” A conference was held where the discussion revolved around the achievements so far, as well as the work that remains,” Sonja stated in an interview with Mbl.is. Attendees of the conference agreed that there was still a long way to go in the fight for women’s rights.

“Since the 1975 Icelandic women’s strike was a joint venture of women’s and gender-diverse associations, as well as workers’ associations, the question arose whether a women’s strike should be held. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’; everyone felt the same way, everyone had experienced this stagnation, and everyone believed that progress was not happening fast enough. No one wanted to wait any longer,” Sonja stated.

Twofold demands

Sonja told Mbl.is that the main demands of this year’s women’s strike were twofold: eradicating all gender-based violence and rectifying the undervaluation of so-called women’s professions.

As noted by Mbl.is, by “women’s professions,” Sonja is referring to job sectors where women constitute a significant majority. Research has shown that the primary reason for the gender pay gap is that these sectors are paid lower wages compared to other sectors in the labour market. These professions may even be at the lowest wage levels in the labour market.

“Addressing the wage structures within these professions, correcting this undervaluation constitutes a significant stride towards obliterating the gender pay gap,” Sonja observed.

Gender-based violence

In her interview, Sonja underscored the pervasive nature of gender-based violence in Iceland, calling for measures proportional to the severity and frequency of such incidents.

“An initial focus is on comprehending the scope of gender-based violence, with data revealing that a staggering 40% of women have encountered some form of violence in their lifetime. While substantial efforts have been directed towards aiding women and trans women victimised by gender-based violence, there’s a glaring disparity in the attention towards perpetrators and devising strategies to curb such aggressions,” she remarked.

“The question remains – what steps will our society take to stem this tide, ensuring that perpetrators face stringent consequences, thereby shifting the burden of accountability from the victims to those inflicting harm?” Sonja posited.

An emphasis on gender-queer individuals

This year’s women’s strike is drawing inspiration from the historic 1975 Icelandic women’s strike, where women halted work for a full day to highlight gender injustices. “Unlike the protocol since the 2005 strike – where a specific walkout time was designated – we opted for a full-day strike to underscore our expanded agenda beyond the pay gap, prominently spotlighting violence,” Sonja explained.

A notable addition to this year’s strike is the deliberate inclusion of non-binary issues. “While an open invitation has always existed, this year marks a concerted effort to extend a warmer welcome to non-binary individuals, recognizing their shared subjugation under patriarchal norms akin to women. Despite the gender spectrum they represent, they grapple with a common gender oppressive system,” Sonja noted.

“Our aim is to rally individuals across all gender identities who endure patriarchal subordination, and that we intertwine our struggles,” she added.

Man Found Dead in East Reykjavík Believed to Have Been Murdered

A man found unconscious in East Reykjavík last weekend, and later declared dead at the hospital, is now believed to have been murdered, Vísir reports. The woman arrested at the scene is suspected of having caused his death.

Autopsy sheds light on likely cause of death

Ævar Pálmi Pálmason, Assistant Chief Superintendent at the Central Investigation Department of the Capital Area Police, suggests that all signs point to the likelihood that the man who was discovered unconscious in East Reykjavík last weekend was murdered, Vísir reports. The woman arrested at the scene of the incident is now suspected of having caused his death.

The man, who was in his sixties, was found unconscious in an apartment building in Bátavogur on Saturday, September 23. The police were notified about the man and attempted resuscitation, but he was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital. “In the beginning, it was very unclear in what manner the man had died, but now there are indications that he was murdered,” Ævar stated in an interview with Vísir. He added that an autopsy now suggests foul play.

As noted by DV, the woman who was arrested on the scene of the incident was initially placed into custody based on investigative interests; but the police now believe that she was responsible for the man’s death. The woman was registered as residing at the home, and the man also appears to have stayed there.

According to RÚV, the man had injuries on his neck and also significant injuries to his genitals, although Ævar Pálmi refused to comment on the nature of the man’s wounds nor on what was believed to have been the cause of his death. Ævar did confirm, however, that a dead dog had been found inside the apartment. “One of the things that needs to be investigated is whether and in what way this dead dog is related to the case.”

As noted by Vísir, the current custody order expires tomorrow. When asked whether further custody of the woman would be sought, Ævar told Vísir that it would be revealed tomorrow. “There is much work to be done in this case, much data to collect, and many reports to take. We are fully engaged in investigating this case,” he concluded.