Singer Ásdís Pops in Germany

Singer Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir

Ásdís María Viðarsdóttir, known professionally as Ásdís, has become a mainstay of the Germany pop charts and performed at the Brandenburg Gate to ring in the new year.

In a radio interview with Rás 2 this weekend, the singer discussed her career, with an upcoming supporting gig for pop star Zara Larsson in Reykjavík and two songwriting credits in Söngvakeppnin, the Icelandic Eurovision preliminaries. “It’s mostly been an incredibly good journey, but also an incredible amount of work,” she said.

Musical influence from her family

Ásdís has been performing publicly since she was young with her first big gig coming in the upper secondary school song competition, which she won in 2013. Growing up in the Breiðholt neighbourhood of Reykjavík, she credits her older siblings as musical influences. “I know I was a real brat, because as fun as I think it is to sing, it’s even more fun to talk,” she said.

Her father was her biggest supporter in music and after he passed away in 2016, she decided to take the leap and move to Berlin to study music. “It was his biggest dream that I become Elvis,” she said, adding that moving away from her mother to another country has been difficult.

Gold record hits

After seven years in Berlin, she’s made a career for herself as a songwriter and performer in Germany’s pop music industry, earning multiple gold records for her hits. Her recent songs include “Beat of Your Heart” with Grammy award-winning DJ and producer Purple Disco Machine, while her televised New Year’s Eve performance at Brandenburg Gate was an added honour.

She said that she felt that her career was on the right track these days and that she enjoys performing. “It’s been a through line in my life and I’ve come to understand now that I have to do it, especially in light of my upbringing,” she said. “If not for me, then for my parents.”

Iceland’s Hopes of a Medal Dashed

Iceland men’s national handball team lost to Germany in their main round match-up of the 2024 European men’s handball championship yesterday. The defeat means that the team now has no chance of climbing the standings to reach the knockout rounds and compete for a medal.

Iceland still has a chance of winning enough games to secure a spot in the Olympics qualifiers to be held in March. They must win at least two of their last three games for that to be possible, Morgunblaðið reports. Reaching the qualifiers is Iceland’s last chance to compete for a berth at this year’s Summer Olympics in France.

A tough defeat

The match took place at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, with rivals Germany enjoying home court advantage as hosts of the tournament. Germany led by one goal at half-time, but when 10 minutes were left, Iceland took its first lead of the game. By the end, Germany pulled back in front and held on to their lead. Iceland’s top scorer was Janus Daði Smárason with six goals. Juri Knorr scored six for Germany as well.

“I’m hurt, upset, and bummed out,” coach Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson told Morgunblaðið after the game. “At the same time, I’m proud of the boys.”

Icelandic record broken

Iceland will face France Saturday, Croatia Monday and Austria Wednesday. Iceland needs at least two victories against these tough opponents to reach the Olympics qualifiers and must secure more points than at least one of Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and the Netherlands to stand a chance.

An Icelandic record was broken yesterday when France’s 40-year old Nikola Karabatic scored his 289th goal in his European championship career. The record for most goals in the tournament was previously held by retired Iceland player Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, who scored 288 competition goals during his illustrious handball career.

Handball Team Kicks Off Euro Run with a Draw

In a nail-biter Friday, the Iceland men’s national handball team managed a late-game onslaught to secure a draw against Serbia in both countries’ opening game of the 2024 European men’s handball championship.

The match took place in Munich’s Olympic Hall and began with a strong defensive effort from both teams, as Iceland’s goalkeeper Viktor Gísli Hallgrímsson blocked a couple of difficult shots. After leading at half-time by one goal, Iceland saw Serbia begin to pull away. Led by top goalscorer Dragan Pechmalbec, Serbia held on to their advantage until the final two minutes. Two late goals from Aron Pálmarsson and the equaliser from Sigvaldi Björn Guðjónsson saved Iceland’s team from an opening loss.

Bjarki Már Elísson scored seven goals for Iceland, while Sigvaldi contributed six. Goalkeeper Viktor blocked 14 shots.

Next up, Montenegro

This edition of the tournament is hosted by Germany. After securing qualification and becoming one of the 24 national teams taking part, Iceland was drawn to face Hungary and Montenegro, along with Serbia, in the tournament’s Group C. The group’s top two teams will move on to the tournament’s main round and, if successful there, the knockout stage. With Hungary beating Montenegro in their opener, Iceland and Serbia are now tied for Group C’s second place with one point each.

“I’m not so happy with the performance,” Bjarki said after the game. “I thought we didn’t play so good through the match and we have to do better in the next one for sure. But we take the point to go on for sure.” Iceland will face Montenegro on Sunday and Hungary on Tuesday to close out Group C action, with both games taking place in the Olympic Hall.

Handball nation

The Iceland men’s national handball team has historically been very competitive on the international stage and the sport is very popular in Iceland. The team’s greatest success was the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

This was the second time Iceland faced Serbia in the opening game of a men’s Euro tournament and the second time that opener ended with a draw. After their first Euro match-up in 2010, Iceland went on to secure their best result ever in the tournament by winning the bronze medal.

Captain Commends Team’s Effort in 0-2 Loss to Germany

Women's National Football Team

Captain Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir expressed pride in the Women’s National Football team’s performance, despite a 2-0 loss to Germany. The team’s reaction after conceding a penalty was commendable, although they missed the chance to equalise.

Proud of the team’s performance

In a post-match interview with Vísir yesterday, Glódís Perla Viggósdóttir, Captain of the Women’s National Football team, stated that she was proud of the team’s performance despite a 0-2 loss against Germany: “They took their chances, and we didn’t. I think that’s what separated the two teams, first and foremost,” Glódís remarked. The game was part of the UEFA Women’s Nations League; Iceland sits in third place in Group A3, behind Germany and Denmark.

Despite the loss, she felt that the team had stuck to its game plan: “I felt we were successful in shutting them down, just as we had planned before the game. They weren’t getting many opportunities to cross the ball towards unmarked players inside the box – at least not as much as we had anticipated. I felt we were coming out on top in the one-on-one situations and close encounters during the game, really making our presence felt.”

Glódís also remarked that the team had reacted well to the concession of a penalty, noting that if the team had taken the opportunity to equalise, it could have altered the trajectory of the game. “Instead, we conceded another goal, which is not uncommon when you’re chasing. We were aiming for a point,” Glódís observed.

Penalty call questionable

As noted by Vísir, the Icelandic team was on the defensive for the majority of the game, which cost a lot of energy. “Of course, it requires a lot of energy,” Glódís stated. “The players, especially those in front of the back line, put in a lot of hard work. They made our job easier. I think they performed exceptionally well today.”

The German team took the lead in the second half with a goal from a penalty kick after goalkeeper Telma Ívarsdóttir was adjudged to have fouled Lea Schuller. Glódís is not convinced by the merits of the decision.

“I don’t know. I just heard Telma shout. I couldn’t see much, aside from Lea getting a free header. I don’t think it’s fair, for her to get a free header and a penalty. But like I said, I don’t know what happened. I think it was the wrong decision, but that’s how it is,” Glódís concluded by saying.

Women’s Football Team Suffers Heavy Defeat Against Germany

The Icelandic women’s national football team suffered a significant 4-0 defeat against Germany in the UEFA Nations League yesterday, with concerns about their performance potentially leading to relegation from the A division. Recent setbacks, including the last-minute withdrawal of key player Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir, have further impacted the team’s prospects in the competition.

Margins could have been even greater

The Icelandic women’s national football team suffered a 4-0 defeat during their visit to Germany in the UEFA Nations League yesterday. As noted by Vísir, the margin could have been even greater as the Icelandic team didn’t manage a single shot on target. “There was a vast difference in performance between the two teams,” sports commentator Sindri Sverrisson observed.

In an interview with RÚV, Þorsteinn Halldórsson, coach of the women’s national football team, stated that the Germans were skilled, aggressive, and applied high pressure on Iceland. “Of course, one could say our strategy didn’t work out. We obviously lost 4-0,” Þorsteinn commented, noting the team’s difficulty in retaining possession and losing many duels. “They were simply outstanding against us. They were very aggressive and pressed us high.”

Upcoming home matches against Denmark and Germany

With their win yesterday, Germany secured their first three points in the UEFA Nations League, having previously lost 2-0 to Denmark on Friday. Iceland also holds three points after their 1-0 victory over Wales. Denmark sits atop the table with 6 points, having secured a resounding 1-5 victory against Wales yesterday.

Iceland’s upcoming matches will be home games against Denmark and Germany at the end of October. The group stage will then conclude in early December with away games against Wales and Denmark.

In competition against Wales

The team finishing at the bottom of the group will be relegated to the B division. As noted by Vísir, “given Iceland’s performance last night – and arguably against Wales as well – it seems evident that Iceland’s battle will be against Wales to avoid direct relegation.” The challenge, however, is that the team in the 3rd position is not guaranteed to stay in the A division either but will have to compete in a playoff against a B division team.

“All (distant) dreams of competing for the top spot, and thereby a potential Olympic seat, however, seemed to have vanished last night,” Vísir noted. This should not, however, come as a surprise, considering how much the Icelandic national team has weakened over the past year due to various setbacks: the last-minute withdrawal of Sveindís Jane Jónsdóttir just before Iceland’s first two matches in the competition being especially frustrating.

Keflavík Airport Reopened After Bomb Threat

Keflavík airport

Keflavík Airport was closed for approximately four hours this morning after a bomb threat, RÚV reports. The threat was made in relation to a UPS jet that landed at the airport before midnight yesterday.

No bomb found

Keflavík International Airport has been reopened following a bomb threat last night.

According to a public statement from the Suðurnes Police this morning, the threat was made in relation to a UPS cargo plane – headed from Cologne, Germany to Kentucky, USA – which landed in Keflavík Airport at just after 11 PM yesterday.

The threat was received at 22.47 PM last night, and all air traffic was subsequently directed away from the airport, which was closed for approximately four hours as police authorities investigated the matter. No bomb has been found.

According to Isavia, all of today’s flights are on schedule, Mbl.is reports.

Fireworks and firearm replicas

As reported by Vísir at 8.52 AM, the Suðurnes Police discovered a box aboard the UPS cargo plane that contained fireworks and firearm replicas. An investigation is ongoing.

This article will be updated.

Bomb Threat on German Flight Investigated at Keflavík Airport

An airplane on its way from Frankfurt, Germany to Seattle, Washington in the US landed in Keflavík on Monday afternoon as a result of an onboard bomb threat. RÚV reports that the plane turned around over Greenland when Icelandic aviation authorities received word that a passenger on the plane had written “BOMB” on the mirror in one of the aircraft lavatories.

Two hundred and sixty-six passengers were onboard the flight, which was operated by German airline Condor. The plane was successfully evacuated after landing in Keflavík. Bomb squads from the National Police Commissioner’s special forces and the Icelandic Coast Guard were called to the scene, but no bomb was found, neither on a passenger’s person, in the onboard luggage, or on the plane itself.

All flight passengers were interrogated on Monday and evidence collected from passengers’ luggage. The initial investigation was concluded around midnight, by which point, the passengers had been waiting in a closed section of the airport for seven hours. They were then transported to 11 different hotels in the area for the evening and the original aircraft was flown back to Germany. A new aircraft with a new crew was sent in its place.

On Tuesday afternoon, all the flight’s passengers were allowed to leave the country on the new aircraft, which departed from Keflavík around 3:00 pm.

The culprit behind the threat has not yet been identified.

Police will continue to investigate the incident. Úlfar Lúðvíksson, chief of police in Suðurnes, says the investigation will be extensive and could take several months.

Food and Veterinary Authority Refers Mare Abuse Incident to Police

The Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST) has completed its investigation of the mistreatment of Icelandic mares during blood collection procedures. Per a press release on its website, the agency has determined that the abuse, which was caught by hidden camera and featured in a YouTube documentary called “Iceland – Land of 5,000 Blood Mares,” constitutes a breach of animal welfare laws. The incident and all related evidence have been turned over to the police.

See Also: MAST Reviewing Footage of Mistreated Mares in YouTube Doc

The documentary was posted in November 2021 by Tierschutzbund Zürich (TSB, Switzerland) and the Animal Welfare Foundation (AWF, Germany) and has since received almost 70,500 views. It reports on the activities within so-called “blood farms” in Iceland, where blood is drawn from mares in early pregnancy to extract ECG (previously known as pregnant mare’s serum gonadotropin or PMSG): a hormone commonly used in concert with progestogens to induce ovulation in livestock prior to artificial insemination.

The documentary features footage from hidden cameras showing workers beating and shouting at horses. The filmmakers claim to have discovered “widespread animal-welfare violations” in Iceland, which run counter to claims made by pharmaceutical companies on the nature of blood-collection procedures in the country.

See Also: Blood Harvesting in Mares Four Times More Frequent Than a Decade Ago

In the course of its investigation, MAST contacted both TSB and AWF and requested further information on where and when the video footage had been taken, as well as whatever uncut footage was available. MAST says that in December, it received an open letter from the organizations in which they refused to share uncut footage or confirm filming locations, although they did specify the dates on which the footage had been shot.

Experts at MAST reviewed the documentary footage in detail and were able to determine both the location of the incidents as well as the people involved. The agency sought explanations from the individuals in question and their responses to the video footage. However, although MAST was able to confirm that abuses had taken place, the agency says that without all of the footage, including the uncut material that TSB and AWF refuse to provide, it is limited in its ability to assess the seriousness of the violations or to investigate the case in full.

Iceland Loses 4-0 to Germany in World Cup Qualifer

football soccer

The Iceland men’s national football team lost its world cup qualifier match in Reykjavík against Germany on Wednesday night, Vísir reports. This is Iceland’s fourth loss in six qualifying matches thus far. The team has lost five home matches in a row.

Germany took the lead in the fourth minute of the first half, with a goal by Serges Gnabry. Mark Antonios Rüdiger scored a second goal for Germany in the 23rd minute. Germany got its third goal after halftime, courtesy of Leroy Sané, and Timo Werner pounded the final nail in the coffin about a minute before the match ended.

Iceland remains, therefore, in the fifth seat with four points in the J-group, which includes Armenia, Germany, Liechtenstein, North Macedonia, and Romania. Iceland has four remaining qualifying matches: two home matches in October and two away matches in November.

Changes in starting lineup, Hannes retires

Head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson and Assistant Coach Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen made six changes to the starting lineup ahead of Wednesday’s match. Hannes Þór Halldórsson started as goalie in place of Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, who began the last two games. Jón Guðni Fjóluson and Ari Freyr Skúlason started as defenders in place of Kári Árnason and Guðmundur Þórarinsson. Guðlaugur Victor Pálsson was substituted in midfield for Andri Fannar Baldursson. Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson came in on the right wing and Þórir Jóhann Helgason on the left.

After the match, Hannes Þór Halldórsson announced that it was his last as part of the Icelandic National Men’s Football team. All together, Hannes played in 77 matches for Iceland—more matches than any other goalie in the history of Icelandic football. “I’ve played for the Men’s National Team for ten years now, almost to the day,” he said in an interview after the match. “I’m really proud of that and have had some incredible moments in this jersey—many of my best memories. But we’ve come to a generational changeover and we have so many great goalies, so I think this is the right time for me to step aside now and let them take the reins without me breathing down their necks. So this was my last game on the national team tonight—thank you all.”

Hannes might be leaving football, but that doesn’t mean he’s resting on his laurels. In 2021, he made his debut as a film director, with Cop Secret, which received positive advance reviews. Hannes directed and co-wrote (with Nína Pedersen and Sverrir Þór Sverrisson) the “raucously entertaining” spoof on the cop film genre.

See Also: Icelandic Football Requests Space To Enact Improvements

The Men’s National Football Team has been shaken of late by accounts of sexual assault. This has led to the resignation of director Guðni Bergsson and the entire board of the Icelandic Football Association. The Association’s CEO Klara Bjartmarz has taken an indefinite leave.

Meanwhile, a joint statement from The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, Íslenskur Toppfótbolti, and the Icelandic Football Association asked that Icelandic football be given room to follow through on the work they’re preparing to combat the issues raised in the past few weeks. The plan includes electing a new temporary board and organising a workgroup that will work on creating and reviewing the necessary work procedures to ensure the right reactions to reports of sensitive matters. The workgroup will cooperate with the communications advisor of sports and youth issues.

According to the statement, the reviewed work procedures will be implemented into all associated institutions of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, making the association as a whole more prepared to handle such issues professionally. They note that while Icelandic football’s reputation has been damaged, it also has the strength, ability, opportunity and powerful members to improve and meet the challenges together.

Icelandic Horse Export Suspended Following Fatal Accident

Icelandic horse

Update Jan 14: Two export companies have reported that export of Icelandic horses to Liège, Belgium will resume on January 20. Icelandair Cargo has stated that while they are still ironing out the details with Liege authorities, that is indeed the case.

Export of Icelandic horses to Liège, Belgium has been suspended indefinitely following an accident caused by human error at Liege airport last month. A container with horses fell off a platform, causing severe injury to two horses and minor injuries to a third. The two badly injured horses had to be put down. Bændablaðið reported first.

Boom in Export of Icelandic Horses

The decision to halt export indefinitely will have a huge impact on Icelandic horse farmers and Icelandic horse enthusiasts in mainland Europe. By far the largest market for Icelandic horses abroad is in Germany, and all horses that are exported to that country go through Liège. Export of Icelandic horses grew by 50% in 2020 as compared to the previous year.

Around 2,000 Icelandic horses were exported to new homes abroad last year, and after Germany, their most common destinations were Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Icelandic horses fetch a fine price abroad: one prized stallion set a new record last year when he was sold to a buyer in Denmark, reportedly for tens of millions of krónur, or hundreds of thousands of US dollars.

Human Error Caused Horse Injuries

Mikael Tal Grétarsson, Export Manager at Icelandair Cargo, stated that the incident was not due to an equipment malfunction but rather to human error. “We have been transporting horses in specially-equipped containers since 1995 with similar equipment and it has been very successful,” Mikael told Bændablaðið. “We have certain procedures that we follow and our subcontractors should also follow. Then it happens that an employee in Belgium doesn’t follow work procedure, he doesn’t fasten the container sufficiently, so it falls about 50 centimetres from the platform and therefore this accident occurs. This is a human error and we had to put down two horses in consultation with their owners and a veterinarian at the site. One additional horse had minor injuries but did not need to be put down.”

According to Mikael, Belgian authorities have now suspended horse imports from Iceland and Icelandair Cargo will be required to adapt their procedure to the country’s recently-updated import regulations. “We need to better understand how we can fulfil them and have, among other things, met with [the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority] here at home to review work procedures. This is a matter of great interest to horse farmers and we take accidents like this very seriously, as we always put safety and welfare in first place.”

Read more about the Icelandic horse and its international appeal.