Cristiano Ronaldo: “Iceland Have a Very Good Team”

Football

The men’s national football team of Portugal trained at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium last night, in preparation for tonight’s game against Iceland in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo, who expects “a tough match,” will play his 200th international match tomorrow.

Major milestone for Cristiano Ronaldo

Following a disappointing 1-2 loss against Slovakia on Saturday, Iceland’s men’s national football team currently sits fifth in Group J of the EUFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. The winners and runners-up from the ten groups will qualify directly to the final tournament, which will take place in Germany next summer (the other three qualifiers will come from play-offs based on last year’s Nations League: a total of 24 teams will compete in the finals).

Tonight, Iceland will face off against group leaders Portugal, who have won all of their three matches in the qualifiers. In preparation for the game yesterday, Cristiano Ronaldo fielded questions from the media at a press conference. He told reporters that he expected a tough game. “They [Iceland] have a very good team, in my opinion. They have a strong team. And, you know, when they play at home, it’s always tough to beat teams with their support, their fans, their stadium.”

Nonetheless, the Portuguese observed that he had full faith in his team: “I believe in our team. I believe in our players. We know what we should do on the pitch to score goals, and I hope that things go the way we want. I know it’s tough, I repeat. But I think Portugal, we should show that we have a better team than them.

As noted by RÚV, Ronaldo played his first international match on August 20, 2003, in a 1-0 victory over Kazakhstan. He was 18 years old. Tomorrow, some 20 years later, Ronaldo will make his 200th international appearance – a feat that no male footballer has achieved before – when Portugal faces off against Iceland at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium.

Swapping jerseys

The Icelandic national team last competed against Portugal at the 2016 European Championship when the teams drew 1-1. The game marked Iceland’s first match at a major tournament. As noted by RÚV, Aron Einar Gunnarsson, Iceland’s captain, attempted to swap jerseys with Ronaldo after the game – but was rebuffed. At yesterday’s press conference, Aron was asked if he intended to make another go at it tonight.

“I think I’ll let it go,” Aaron said with a grin. “It’ll be his 200th international appearance so he’ll probably want to keep his jersey. So I think I’ll let it be this time.”

Hareide Makes Seven Changes to Men’s National Football Squad

Football team

Åge Hareide, head coach of the men’s national football team, has announced his squad for the upcoming matches in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. Hareide has made seven changes to the previously selected squad, Mbl.is reports.

Aron Einar and Jóhann Berg to be employed as midfielders

At a press conference earlier today, Åge Hareide, newly appointed head coach of the men’s national football team, announced his squad for the upcoming matches against Slovakia and Portugal for the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. The two matches will be played at the Laugardalsvöllur sports arena in Reykjavík on June 17 and 20.

As noted by Mbl.is, Hareide made seven changes to the squad since the team’s matches against Bosnia and Liechtenstein in March. He has also selected 25 players instead of 24 previously.

Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson, a 19-year-old player from Ajax – who has played a major role in Iceland’s U21 and U19 national teams – enters the senior national team for the first time. Willum Þór Willumsson, from Go Ahead Eagles in the Netherlands, also joins the group, having a single senior-level national match under his belt.

Albert Guðmundsson returns to the team after a year’s absence. Birkir Bjarnason, Sverrir Ingi Ingason, goalkeeper Elías Rafn Ólafsson, and Valgeir Lunddal Friðriksson have also been selected for the squad. Hareide noted that Jóhann Berg and Aron Einar will play in the midfield.

The six players who were part of the group in March but are absent this time around are Patrik Sigurður Gunnarsson, Davíð Kristján Ólafsson, Guðmundur Þórarinsson, Aron Elís Þrándarson, Stefán Teitur Þórðarson, and Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen, Mbl.is notes.

The squad is as follows (appearances and goals noted, as well):

Goalkeepers:
Rún­ar Alex Rún­ars­son, Al­anya­spor – 22/​0
Há­kon Rafn Valdi­mars­son, Elfs­borg – 4/​0
Elías Rafn Ólafs­son, Midtjyl­l­and – 4/​0

Defenders:
Hörður Björg­vin Magnús­son, Pan­athinai­kos – 46/​2
Sverr­ir Ingi Inga­son, PAOK – 40/​3
Guðlaug­ur Victor Páls­son, DC United – 34/​1
Al­fons Samp­sted, Twente – 15/​0
Daní­el Leó Grét­ars­son, Slask Wroclaw – 13/​0
Val­geir Lund­dal Friðriks­son, Häcken – 5/​0

Midfielders:
Birk­ir Bjarna­son, Vik­ing Stavan­ger – 113/​15
Aron Ein­ar Gunn­ars­son, Al-Ar­abi – 101/​5
Jó­hann Berg Guðmunds­son, Burnley – 84/​8
Arn­ór Ingvi Trausta­son, Norr­köp­ing – 46/​5
Arn­ór Sig­urðsson, Norr­köp­ing – 27/​2
Mika­el And­er­son, AGF – 20/​2
Ísak Berg­mann Jó­hann­es­son, FC Kö­ben­havn – 18/​3
Þórir Jó­hann Helga­son, Lecce – 16/​2
Há­kon Arn­ar Har­alds­son, FC Kö­ben­havn – 9/​1
Will­um Þór Will­umsson, Go Ahead Eag­les – 1/​0
Kristian Nökkvi Hlyns­son, Ajax – 0/​0

Attackers:
Al­freð Finn­boga­son, Lyng­by – 65/​15
Al­bert Guðmunds­son, Genoa – 33/​6
Jón Dag­ur Þor­steins­son, OH Leu­ven – 26/​4
Mika­el Eg­ill Ell­erts­son, Venezia – 12/​1
Sæv­ar Atli Magnús­son, Lyng­by – 2/​0

Men’s National Football Team Announced, Captain Reinstated

Aron Einar Gunnarsson - Iceland Football National Team

At a press conference today, Arnar Þór Viðarsson, head coach of the men’s national football team, introduced his squad for the upcoming fixtures. Former team captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson has been handed the armband again, having not been selected to the team since 2021, RÚV reports, following accusations of sexual misconduct.

Squad announced

At a press conference at KSÍ (Football Association of Iceland) headquarters today, Arnar Þór Viðarsson, head coach of the men’s national football team, announced the squad for the team’s upcoming fixtures. The team will play a friendly against Venezuela on September 22 before facing off against Albania five days later, in what will be an important match in the Nation’s League.

Police investigation against Aron Einar dropped

Notable inclusions in the squad include former captain Aron Einar Gunnarsson, who returns to the team after accusations of sexual assault surfaced in the summer of 2021. The police opened an investigation into the matter September of that year, and when he was left out of the squad a month later, Aron Einar released a public statement accusing KSÍ’s board of directors of yielding to “cancel culture.”

As reported by RÚV, coach Arnar Þór subsequently called for KSÍ and ÍSÍ (the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland) to set clear rules for which players could be selected to the team. New rules were later established, RÚV notes, which stipulate that players cannot be selected for the national team if they are under police investigation. Aron Einar Gunnarsson is currently eligible for selection as his case was dropped in May.

Notable inclusions, exclusions

Forward Alfreð Finnbogason, who plays with Lyngby in Denmark, also returns to the team after a near two-year hiatus, following prolonged injury, as do defender Guðlaugur Victor Pálsson and goalkeeper Elías Rafn Ólafsson.

Perhaps the most notable exclusion from the team is Albert Guðmundsson; during the press conference, coach Arnar Þór expressed disappointment with Albert’s attitude during the last international break. “To me, it’s a great honour to play for the national team, and that calls for 100% focus, every day, always. You’re either 100% with us or you’re not,” Arnar explained.

Brynjar Ingi Bjarnason was also left out of the team; Sverrir Ingi Ingason and Arnór Ingvi Traustason announced that they were unavailable, owing to personal reasons; and Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson is recovering from a minor injury.

The squad:

Goalkeepers:
Patrik Sigurður Gunnarsson – Viking FK – 1 cap
Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson – Alanyaspor – 17 caps
Elías Rafn Ólafsson – FC Midtjylland – 4 caps

Defenders:
Daníel Leó Grétarsson – Slask Wroclaw – 10 caps
Hjörtur Hermannsson – Pisa – 25 caps, 1 goal
Hörður Björgvin Magnússon – Panathinaikos – 41 games, 2 goals
Davíð Kristján Ólafsson – Kalmar FF – 7 caps
Guðlaugur Victor Pálsson – D.C. United – 29 caps, 1 goal
Alfons Sampsted – Bodo/Glimt – 13 caps

Midfielders:
Aron Einar Gunnarsson – Al Arabi – 97 caps, 2 goals
Hákon Arnar Haraldsson – FC Köbenhavn – 3 caps
Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson – FC Köbenhavn – 13 caps, 1 goal
Þórir Jóhann Helgason – Lecce – 12 caps, 2 goals
Stefán Teitur Þórðarson – Silkeborg IF – 12 caps, 1 goal
Birkir Bjarnason – Adana Demirspor – 110 caps, 15 goals
Aron Elís Þrándarson – OB – 14 caps, 1 goal
Mikael Neville Anderson – AGF – 14 caps, 1 goal
Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson – OH Leuven – 21 games, 4 goals
Mikael Egill Ellertsson – Spezia Calcio – 6 caps
Arnór Sigurðsson – IFK Norrköping – 21 games, 2 goals

Forwards:
Alfreð Finnbogason – Lyngby BK – 61 games, 15 goals
Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen – IFK Norrköping – 9 caps, 2 goals
Sveinn Aron Guðjohnsen – IF Elfsborg – 16 caps, 1 goal

Vík Mayor Wants to Build Harbour for Sand Mine

Vík í Mýrdal

Iceland’s Minister of the Environment and Energy opposes plans to transport sand from a planned sand mine in South Iceland by truck along the Ring Road. Residents have expressed opposition to the plans, which would see large trucks driving at 7- to 8- minute intervals along the Ring Road in South Iceland 24 hours per day. The mayor of Vík, just 15 km west of the mine’s planned location, has proposed building a harbour in the town from which the sand could be exported.

Road transport “is not going to work” says Environment Minister

“Everyone knows that there is a lot of strain on infrastructure as it is, and putting heavy transport on top of that is something that I don’t think there will ever be agreement on,” Environment Minister Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson stated. “Whichever way you look at it, adding to these roads and through these settlements is not going to work.”

Negative impact on traffic, positive on the climate

In 2020, German company EP Power Minerals purchased a large property in South Iceland, around 15 km [9.3 mi] east of the town of Vík í Mýrdal. The property mostly consists of sand plains and the company plans to establish a sand mine on it. The sand would be exported to Europe and possibly North America, where it will be used as an additive in cement.

A recently-published environmental report on the proposed mine judged the project’s impact on traffic and roads to be “considerably negative.” Its climate impact, however, was evaluated as “considerably positive,” as the material produced would replace cement clinker and reduce carbon emissions due to concrete production by 800 million kg of CO2 equivalents annually.

Only coastal town without a harbour

Einar Freyr Elínarson, Mayor of Mýrdalshreppur municipality (in which Vík is located), has proposed building a harbour in Vík from which the mined materials could be exported.

“Route 1 passes through several urban areas on the way to Þorlákshöfn [the planned export harbour]. So we in the municipality propose looking into the possibility of shipping all of this out from here on the coast, and building a harbour,” Einar told Vísir.

Vík is the only coastal town in Iceland that doesn’t have a harbour, but the south coast’s strong waves post challenges in such construction projects. The nearby Landeyjarhöfn harbour, from which the Westman Islands ferry departs, fills with sand that must be pumped out regularly.

Einar says he has proposed the idea to EP Power Minerals representatives who have not expressed direct opposition to the idea. The harbour would not be built using public funds, Einar says, calling it an “exciting opportunity” for the municipality, as well as the local tourism and fishing industries.

Six National Team Players Accused of Violence and Sexual Assault

Former national team member Kolbeinn Sigþórsson

Six members of Iceland’s men’s national football team have been accused of sexual assault. The board of the Football Association of Iceland received a confidential email from activist group Öfgar naming six members of the team and dates of their alleged violent and sexual offences, according to mbl.is sources. The national team coach was also accused of belittling the alleged victims in the wording of his statements to media.

Aron Einar Gunnarsson, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, and Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson have all been named in Icelandic media in relation to violent or sexual offences. The other three players remain unnamed. The players will not play on the national team while the cases are being investigated.

Read More: Football Association Accused of Silencing Sexual Assault

Sigurbjörg Sigurpálsdóttir, Sports and Youth Activities Communication Counselor is overseeing the investigation. Her position was created last spring under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Culture to address bullying and violence in sports and youth activities and to “contribute to a safe environment within sports and youth activities” as per the position’s official website.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated with a more accurate photo.

Aron Einar Not Selected to the National Team Despite Availability

Aron Einar Gunnarsson - Iceland Football National Team

Aron Einar Gunnarsson, captain of the men’s national football team, has not been selected to the squad for upcoming games against Armenia and Liechtenstein for the World Cup qualifiers. While the team’s head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson stated that he was not asked to exclude any players, and board members have denied any interference, Aron Einar maintains that the exclusion stems from the incoming board of directors yielding to “cancel culture.” The footballer contends that he was not selected to the squad because of rumours of sexual misconduct that he allegedly perpetrated in 2010. According to RÚV’s sources, police are reinvestigating the 2010 incident at the victim’s request.

Presumed to be fit

Yesterday, Arnar Þór Viðarsson, head coach of the men’s national football team, announced a squad of 25 footballers for the upcoming matches against Armenia and Liechtenstein for the World Cup Qualifiers. Among the names missing from the squad was Aron Einar Gunnarsson, captain of the team for the past decade and who was presumed to be fit.

Before the team’s press conference yesterday, rumours spread that the Football Association’s board of directors had prohibited Arnar Þór Viðarsson from selecting Aron Einar to the squad on account of the latter being implicated, without being named, in an incident of sexual violence occurring eleven years ago. According to mbl.is, who reached out for a statement, outgoing and incoming board members denied these allegations. Arnar Þór Viðarsson has also stated that he was not asked to exclude any players.

Aron Einar releases a statement

After the squad was officially announced, Aron Einar Gunnarsson released a statement to the Icelandic media accusing the Football Association’s incoming board of directors of excluding him from the team.

In the statement, Aron Einar explains that he had informed the Association that he was available, in shape, and had fully recovered from an illness. Furthermore, he had notified the Association that he was innocent of all accusations, referring to an incident of alleged sexual violence that occurred in Copenhagen in 2010. Given that the team has performed poorly over the past weeks, Aron Einar says that he was forced to surmise that his exclusion was not tactical but that the Association had decided to submit to the demands of cancel culture.

Aron Einar concluded his statement asking the police to allow him to give a formal statement regarding the incident in 2010. Mbl.is reported yesterday evening that the police authorities had decided to reopen the case; according to RÚV, charges had been brought against Aron Einar in 2010, but those charges were subsequently dropped.

 

Here is Aron Einar’s statement in full:

“As reported today, I was not among those players selected by coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson for the national team’s upcoming games. This exclusion follows my announcement to the Football Association that I was available, in shape, and fully convalesced following an illness. Furthermore, I had informed them that I had done nothing wrong, in reference to the alleged culture of violence within the Football Association, which has been widely discussed recently.

During the press conference, however, the reasons behind said squad selection were hardly discussed. I can only draw the conclusion that the incoming board of directors, whose election was not contested, had, without a mandate, exerted itself to cancel me, as reported on DV.is; the team’s recent results hardly suggest that sidelining the team’s most experiences players would be wise, which cannot be the reason for my exclusion. I have also not asked Arnar Þór to remain quiet about the reasons for his not selecting me.

For me, my family, and those friends who know me, it is deeply hurtful that the National Football Association, for whom I have given my all, for the past 97 national games, has decided to yield to demands founded on vague rumours about members of the national team. It puts one into an indefensible position.

On social media, an event that occurred in Copenhagen in 2010 has been widely discussed. I have not had the opportunity to discuss that event formally with the Football Association, have not been allowed to defend myself against these misdeameanours (sic), which is why I am hurt by this unceremonious dismissal. Furthermore, the police has never contacted me in relation to any investigation. I have never been notified that I was suspected of a crime and neither have I at any point been called into interrogation.

As a captain, I have long since learned to shoulder responsibility; cancel culture has recently been tolerated, but it should not be. And so while I reject all violence I declare that I have not been violated any person or woman. I refuse to play a codependent role toward the street justice, regarding an incident that supposedly occurred eleven years ago. If anyone has any criticism to level in my direction, I ask that same person not to show me any mercy, to accuse me by name, and give me the opportunity to defend myself. That’s honest. 

In light of all of this, I have decided to ask the police to allow me to give a formal statement about that night eleven years ago.”

Aron Einar Gunnarsson

Aron Einar Renews Contract with Cardiff City

Aron Einar Gunnarsson - Iceland Football National Team

Aron Einar Gunnarsson, captain of the Icelandic men’s national football team, renewed his contract with the Welsh football club Cardiff City, RÚV reports. His new contract will be valid until summer 2019.

Aron Einar is Cardiff City’s longest-serving player. He’s played 243 games with the Bluebirds since he first signed with the club in 2011. He’s scored 24 goals in that time.

According to an announcement on the team website, Aron Einar is enthusiastic about the contract saying, “I always wanted to stay…Even though I didn’t say much in the news, I just wanted to do my job on the pitch.”

“It was tough work to get back, ready to represent my country at the World Cup, and for Cardiff City.” Aron Einar continued. “Now, signing this deal has been my number one priority and I can’t wait to meet back up with the boys…My little boy was born in Cardiff and I’ve been through a lot with this Club and the fans. I just can’t wait to pull on the strip again to represent the capital of Wales in the Premier League.”