The 2022 European Handball Championships has been an emotional rollercoaster for Icelandic handball fans. Unexpected victories following a covid outbreak in the team kept the hope of reaching the semi-finals alive, a much-needed diversion for a nation experiencing severe COVID-related restrictions and gathering bans. The hope was dashed when the Danish men’s national team lost to France in an important match yesterday evening. If Denmark had won the match, Iceland would have moved on to the semi-finals, but must now be content to compete with Norway for fifth place. The Danish team initially had the upper hand but lost it during the last few minutes of the game. The disappointment ignited angry reactions against the country’s former coloniser.
Danish handball player Rasmus Boysen attracted the ire of Icelandic handball enthusiasts on Twitter and wasn’t pleased with their attitude, calling some of their comments disgusting and stating that such comments did not belong in handball. He defended his countrymen and the Danish national team coach stating: “Nikolaj Jacobsen should have only one focus – to win the championship. And if he thinks that’s the chances are biggest by resting the star players versus France, he of course should do that. That’s his job! It’s sad for Iceland, but you need to accept that.”
1/6 Reading some of the comments after the Danish defeat makes me disappointed.
Handball is a gentleman sport.
We fight for 60 minutes, mostly without violence or flopping. With respect! At championships fans show respect for each other and have a good time together. https://t.co/0WGcXQqo9H
— Rasmus Boysen (@RasmusBoysen92) January 26, 2022
Hagkaup grocery store management has decided to indefinitely postpone their scheduled “Danish Days” celebrating Danish products in light of recent events surrounding the European Handball Championships.
“It needs to be the right moment for this kind of event,” Hagkaup CEO Sigurður Reynaldsson told Vísir. “We want to take all precautions and celebrate Danish Days once the nation has forgotten and moved on to brighter days ahead,” Sigurður added. Hagkaup hosts the annual marketing campaign early each year, offering an array of Danish products, decorating their stores with the Danish flag.
Other companies have also reacted to the outcome, with Danish-style smørrebrød restaurant Jómfrúin apologising on Denmark’s behalf, offering free drinks at lunch to “calm people’s nerves”.
Pirate Party MP Björn Leví Gunnarsson also caused a stir on Twitter sharing his parliamentary resolution suggesting that the crown and seal of Danish king Christian IX be removed from Iceland’s Parliament building and replaced with a symbol of the Icelandic nation. In an interview with Vísir, Björn Leví confirmed that the image he posted online was not a joke, but it was not a result of handball’s fans irritation towards the Danish team, as it was handed in before the Denmark-France match. He stated that instead, the resolution was spurred on by his discomfort that Iceland’s Parliament operated in a building marked by a Danish king even though there was no longer any connection between Iceland’s parliament and Danish nobility.
Iceland was brought under the Danish crown with the Kalmar Union in 1415 and remained under Danish control for centuries, becoming a sovereign state under the Danish king in 1918 and finally declaring full independence in 1944. The parliament building was built in 1881 during Christian IX’s rule.
Tomorrow’s match with Norway, another country that ruled Iceland in the past (1262-1415), also provides some excitement. A win in the match would give the Icelandic team fifth place in the tournament and a guaranteed ride to the 2023 World Men’s Handball Championship.