Captain-Less Iceland Takes on Israel in Euro Play-Off Match

Iceland football team

Iceland’s national football team captain, Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson, is sidelined with a thigh injury and will miss tonight’s UEFA European Championship play-off semi-final against Israel. If Iceland wins tonight’s match, the team will advance to the finals match of the playoffs, facing either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 26.

More serious than initially suspected

The Icelandic men’s national football team has suffered a significant setback as captain Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson is injured and will not participate in tonight’s UEFA European Championship playoff semi-final against Israel, RÚV reports.

Jóhann Berg has had limited involvement in the team’s training sessions, and it has now been confirmed that his injury is more serious than initially thought. In a press conference yesterday, Jóhann Berg revealed that he had suffered a thigh injury.

Mikael Egill Ellertsson will wear jersey number 7, usually worn by Jóhann Berg. As noted by RÚV, 23 players have been registered for Iceland’s squad by UEFA today, as opposed to the full 24 selected by coach Åge Hareide for the task, in light of Jóhann Berg’s injury.

Centre-back and vice-captain Sverrir Ingi Ingason is expected to lead the team into this crucial match against Israel tonight. If Iceland wins tonight’s match, the team will advance to the finals match of the playoffs, facing either Bosnia and Herzegovina or Ukraine, on Tuesday, March 26.

As noted on UEFA’s website, “the playoffs are all single-leg knockout matches. If ties are level at the end of normal time they go to extra time and, if required, a penalty shoot-out.” Iceland’s match against Israel tonight will take place at the Szusza Ferenc Stadium in Budapest, as UEFA has deemed it unsafe to host matches in Israel. The match is scheduled to start at 19:45 Icelandic time.

Goalkeepers:
Elías Rafn Ólafsson – CD Mafra – 6 matches
Hákon Rafn Valdimarsson – Brentford – 7 matches
Patrik Sigurður Gunnarsson – Viking FK – 4 matches

Outfielders:
Guðmundur Þórarinsson – OFI Crete – 13 matches
Kolbeinn Birgir Finnsson – Lyngby Boldklub – 9 matches
Daníel Leó Grétarsson – Sonderjyske Fodbold – 15 matches
Sverrir Ingi Ingason – FC Midtjylland – 47 matches, 3 goals
Hjörtur Hermannsson – Pisa SC – 27 matches, 1 goal
Guðlaugur Victor Pálsson – K.A.S. Eupen – 42 matches, 1 goal
Alfons Sampsted – FC Twente – 21 matches
Jóhann Berg Guðmundsson – Burnley – 90 matches, 8 goals (injured)
Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson – Fortuna Düsseldorf – 24 matches, 3 goals
Arnór Ingvi Traustason – IFK Norrköping – 54 matches, 5 goals
Hákon Arnar Haraldsson – LOSC Lille – 15 matches, 3 goals
Kristian Nökkvi Hlynsson – AFC Ajax – 1 match
Jón Dagur Þorsteinsson – OH Leuven – 33 matches, 4 goals
Mikael Egill Ellertsson – Venezia FC – 14 matches, 1 goal
Mikael Neville Anderson – AGF – 24 matches, 2 goals
Arnór Sigurðsson – Blackburn Rovers – 20 matches, 2 goals
Willum Þór Willumsson – Go Ahead Eagles – 8 matches
Orri Steinn Óskarsson – FC Köbenhavn – 6 matches, 2 goals
Andri Lucas Guðjohnsen – Lyngby Boldklub – 20 matches, 6 goals
Alfreð Finnbogason – K.A.S. Eupen – 73 matches, 18 goals
Albert Guðmundsson – Genoa CFC – 35 matches, 6 goals

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

New Coach Speaks Out on the Case of Gylfi Þór

Iceland football team

Åge Hareide, the newly appointed coach of the Icelandic men’s national football team, has commented on the situation involving Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson to Norwegian media. Notably, Åge’s contract with the Football Association of Iceland was barely finalized when it was announced that the charges against Gylfi Þór had been dropped.

Read more: Charges Dropped Against Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson

As IR has reported, Gylfi Þór had been accused of multiple offences against an underage individual. Now, the new National Men’s Football coach has spoken openly about the matter. The 69-year-old coach said that he is on his way to Iceland today, Monday, to meet with his staff at the Icelandic national team.

“He hasn’t played for a long time. He was possibly the best player Iceland has ever had. He ended up in a difficult position. I hope he puts on his shoes again. All teams can benefit from a player with his abilities,” said Åge when asked about Gylfi Þór.

Gylfi Þór has not played football since 2021, when he was arrested. With the case against him now dropped, he will be available for selection by the national team.

Read More: Åge Hareide New Head Coach of the Men’s National Football Team

Coach Hareide said he hoped the player would return to playing soon and that he had not decided on how to handle the situation around him. “I know very little about this matter. I need to look into it further before I say more,” replied Åge when asked if he would personally contact Gylfi Þór.

Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir, the chairperson of the Football Association of Iceland, has stated that there is nothing stopping Gylfi Þór from being selected for the national team in the future, now that the charges have been dropped.

Åge Hareide New Head Coach of the Men’s National Football Team

Åge Hareide

Norwegian coach Åge Hareide has taken over as the head coach of the men’s national football team. Two weeks have passed since head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson was let go.

An experienced coach

In a press release today, the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) announced that it had hired Norwegian Åge Hareide as coach of the men’ national football team. Iceland’s first games under Hareide will be home matches against Slovakia and Portugal on June 17 and June 20 respectively at the Laugardalsvöllur stadium. The games are part of the qualifiers for the UEFA Euro 2024 tournament.

As noted in the press release, Hareide is well known to football fans and has a long career as a coach of some of the biggest clubs in the Nordic countries, as well as having coached the national teams of Norway and Denmark for years with considerable success. Hareide was in charge of the Norwegian national team between 2003 and 2008 and led the Danish national team between 2016 and 2020.

Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir, Chair of KSÍ, is quoted as saying that Hareide is an extremely experienced coach: “[He knows what it takes to be successful. The whole search and recruitment process went relatively quickly, as we had certain ideas about the profile we wanted for the job. I am very satisfied with the appointment and have high hopes for the good results of the men’s national team under the leadership of Åge.”

Has followed the Icelandic team for quite some time

The press release also features a few quotes from Haredie: “I have followed the Icelandic team for quite some time, especially around the years that the team went to the European Championship in 2016 and the World Cup in 2018. I am looking forward to the challenge of helping the team succeed again.”

Hareide went on to say that Iceland boasts many strong players.

“I have seen many of them play for their club teams in Scandinavia and have also coached several Icelandic players over the years. In general, they are reliable and hardworking, but also disciplined players with tactical intelligence, and you need these qualities to be successful in national team football.”

“Our goal is to get to the European Championship in 2024. I remember well the Icelandic fans in France 2016. They had a very unique atmosphere and passion. It would be great to be able to give them the opportunity to repeat the game and we hope that the stands will be full of people at our home ground in Reykjavík.”

Two weeks since Arnar Þór Viðarsson was let go

As previously reported by IR, head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson was let go towards the end of March following a 7-0 victory against Liechtenstein. Yesterday, KSÍ published several minutes from board meetings in the lead up to Arnar’s termination. These include joint minutes from two meetings held on March 29 and 30 – when the fate of head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson’s was ultimately sealed.

The minutes state that the board discussed the state of the national team in detail and that there was a consensus that the last international break had been a disappointment. “It is clear that faith in the road ahead has waned,” the minutes state. The board decided to discuss the issue in more detail at a follow-up meeting the next day.

The meeting was adjourned before 9 PM. Sixteen hours later, at 1 PM, the board met for a meeting via the Teams electronic communication programme. After a forty-minute meeting, the result was to relieve Arnar Þór of his duties immediately and entrust the Chair of KSÍ to start the search for a new national team coach.

National Football Team Parts Ways with Head Coach Arnar Þór

Football, head coach

The board of the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ) has fired the head coach of the men’s national football team, Arnar Þór Viðarsson. KSÍ Chairperson Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir has stated that the association was not convinced Arnar Þór was “the right person” to take the team forward.

A “difficult decision”

As noted in a press release on KSÍ’s website yesterday, the association’s board has decided to terminate the head coach of the men’s national football team, Arnar Þór Viðarsson. According to the statement, KSÍ considers the termination a “necessary step, taken with the team’s interest in mind, so as to return the team to the forefront of the sport.”

The press release quotes Chair of KSÍ, Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir: “This is, of course, a difficult decision, but we consider it necessary and correct with the interests of the team in mind. Arnar has done many good things here at KSÍ ​​and deserves praise for his work, which was often carried out in challenging situations. We will now immediately turn our attention to finding his successor, in order to start preparations for the team’s next matches, which will take place this summer.”

As noted by Vísir.is, Arnar was appointed head coach of the Icelandic national team at the end of 2020. He managed the team for 31 games. Under his direction, the team won six games, drew thirteen, and lost twelve (a win percentage of 19.4%). Before Arnar was hired as the national team coach, he led the U-21 national team and, among other things, reached the European Championship finals.

Arnar led the Icelandic national team for the last time in two matches in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament earlier this month. Iceland lost its first match to Bosnia, 3-0, prior to dispatching Liechtenstein in quite comfortable fashion, 7-0.

“Not the right person”

After the news broke, Chair Vanda Sigurgeirsdóttir spoke to a reporter for the TV channel Stöð 2: “The board convened yesterday, and we started discussing these issues, and it just became clear that there was no faith in the project and there was no faith that Arnar Þór was the right person. We had another meeting earlier today and the decision was made.”

Vanda added that the decision to sack Arnar was not discussed with the players, but the board stood by its decision: “We stand behind our decision. But no, we didn’t discuss this with the players.”

Men’s National Football Team Endures Heavy Loss in Bosnia

football soccer

The Icelandic men’s national football team lost to Bosnia and Herzegovina in their first match in the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifying tournament. Head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson told the media that the opening game, although disappointing, had not amounted to a “must-win,” RÚV reports.

A resounding 3-0 defeat

In their opening match of the UEFA Euro 2024 qualifiers, the Icelandic men’s national football team suffered a resounding 3-0 defeat. As noted by RÚV, the spirited atmosphere at Zenica, often referred to as “the heart of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” fueled the home team, bolstered by the enthusiasm of 15,000 Bosnian supporters. Iceland’s defence consistently lagged.

Both teams began the game with vigour, with Icelandic goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson managing two impressive saves early on in the game. Bosnia attacked relentlessly, however, netting the first goal in the 14th minute; Rade Krunic converted a pass in Iceland’s box.

Iceland attempted to retaliate through the long throws of Hörður Björgvin Magnússon, but clear chances were scarce in the first half. Though Iceland improved, they were unable to contain Krunic, who netted his second goal in the 38th minute.

Futile possession

Although Iceland maintained greater ball possession than Bosnia, the team appeared to lack offensive aggression. Hákon Arnar Haraldsson nearly closed the gap at the end of the first half, but both he and the home team’s goalkeeper stumbled on the uneven Zenica pitch, RÚV notes.

In the 61st minute, Amar Dedic’s left-footed shot from the right wing evaded Rúnar Alex, making the score 3-0. The match gradually petered out in the final 30 minutes, culminating in a disheartening loss for Iceland in their opening qualifier.

“Not a must-win”

In a press conference after the match, head coach Arnar Þór Viðarsson maintained that Bosnia was “a much better team” than people generally think. “We threw it away, you could say. They were very solid. They were very strong. We couldn’t regain our composure after the first goal, and we were trying to relay information to the players just before the second goal was netted,” he stated.

Arnar also maintained that the opening game had not been a must-win as far as the group is concerned. “It was, of course, a bad loss, and we need to learn from it. We need to take things to a higher level and a higher tempo. We need to adjust our game significantly if we are going to fight for second place in the group. This is part of football, unfortunately. It’s often difficult to play away from home and secure a win.”

Arnar added that the team had been “a little better in the second half” but that it had, nonetheless, been unable to stop Bosnia defensively. He still believes that the team can turn things around.

When asked what needed to change, Arnar replied in succinct fashion: “Winning games. It’s that simple. But we mustn’t forget that Bosnia is a much better team than people wanted to believe.”

Liechtenstein awaits

The team’s next game is on Sunday against Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein lost their opening match in the group against Portugal 4-0, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice. Portugal now sits at the top of the group; Slovakia and Luxembourg drew 0-0.

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

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.

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 Football Shaken By Accounts of Sexual Assault

Director of the Football Association of Iceland Guðni Bergsson is resigning following criticism on the Association’s behaviour concerning revelations on sexual violence by members of the Icelandic football league, including national team players. The Association’s board has issued an apology but does not intend to resign. Two members of the national football team have been taken out of the line-up in three upcoming qualifying matches for the World Cup.

Association accused of silencing victims

On August 13, Hanna Björg Vilhjálmsdóttir penned an article calling for an end to the silence surrounding sexual assaults and domestic violence committed by Icelandic football players, citing stories revealed on social media in response to a different high-profile sexual assault case. The Icelandic football association was pressed to respond, finally stating that they dealt with all incidents of violence through appropriate channels and denying accusation of silencing. Guðni Bergsson stated in an interview with RÚV that but they couldn’t react unless they were officially notified and that they had received no such notifications.

Director knew of violent incident

In an interview with RÚV last Friday, Þórhildur Gyða Arnarsdóttir revealed that in 2017, she was sexually and physically assaulted by a member of the national football team. She and another woman who was assaulted that same night reported the incidents to the police. Months later, her father was going to attend a national team match when he realised that the man who had assaulted his daughter was in the line-up. He contacted the Director of the Icelandic Football Association, Guðni Bergsson, and notified him of the incident. Guðni contacted both of Þórhildur’s parents and stated that this was a serious matter and there would be consequences. He then removed the player from the national team for a time.

When contacting the Football association director, Þórhildur’s father also contacted the President of Iceland, who replied to his letter, stating that he had discussed the matter with Guðni himself, but on account of his office, he could not become directly involved in the matter. Þórhildur noted that Guðni should have thus been well aware that a member of the national football team had been accused of violence.

Offered damages in exchange for signing non-disclosure agreement

Following this communication, Þórhildur states she was contacted by the Football Association’s lawyers, who offered her financial compensation in exchange for signing a non-disclosure agreement. Þórhildur turned down the offer and was then contacted by another lawyer on behalf of the football player who had assaulted her. The player confessed to his actions and paid her damages. Þórhildur states that she has no grievances with the football player but she wasn’t expecting him to be chosen for the national team when the Football Association knew of his violent actions.

Guðni Bergsson later admitted that it was a mistake to state that no reports of violence had reached the ears of the football association, claiming that he misremembered the incident, believing it to have been only a physical assault, not a sexual assault.

The Football Association issued a statement that the lawyers offering the non-disclosure agreement had not been working for them directly but Þórhildur disputed that statement. The first lawyer who contacted her had introduced himself as the football player’s lawyer but following that conversation, she contacted a legal representative who did some research and then told her that the lawyer was working for KSÍ. Later, when another lawyer working for the football player contacted her, the matter was resolved.

Public outrage follows revelations

The interview caused an uproar on social media, especially as the case comes on the heels of another high-profile sexual assault case which shook the nation. In that case, popular media personality and podcaster Sölvi Tryggvason was accused of sexual assault. Another recent high-profile case of a football player accused of sexual assault is the case of Everton-player Gylfi Þór Sigurðsson, accused of sexual abuse offended in the UK. Stakeholders within the football industry as well as ministers in Iceland’s government have expressed concern and requested clarification from the football association.

Director resigns, board stays

The board of the Icelandic Football Association met on Saturday for a meeting that lasted long into the night, but was ultimately inconclusive. Another meeting began at 10:00 AM on Sunday, and the two women in the boardmet with a representative from Stígamót women’s shelter, as well as Hanna Björg Vilhjálmsdóttir, who recently penned an article condemning the football association for silencing discussion on reports of sexual violence on behalf of national team members. At 4:00 PM, Football Association staff were called into a meeting.

Just before 5:00 PM, the Football Association of Iceland issued a short notice on Twitter, stating that Guðni Bergsson was resigning as Director of the Football Association and more information would be released shortly. Later that day, the Football Association issued a formal apology, translated in full below.

Two players removed from the men’s national team

Two players who were slated to play with the national team for the three World Cup qualifying matches have been pulled from the line-up: Kolbeinn Sigþórsson and Rúnar Már Sigurjónsson. They will be replaced by Viðar Örn Kjartansson and Gísli Eyjólfsson. The Icelandic Football Association’s website stated that Kolbeinn will not be participating on grounds of the decision made by the Association board whereas Rúnar Már withdrew due to injuries and personal reasons. According to visir.is, Kolbeinn is the football player who assaulted Þórhildur in 2017.

A good start

Þórhildur Gyða called this development a good start but said more action was needed, stating: “We can’t blame the protection of perpetrators within the Icelandic Football Association on one guy. A new board is needed, not just a new director.”

The Board of the Icelandic Football Association’s Statement in full:

Dear victims. We, the board of the Icelandic Football Association believe you and apologise wholeheartedly. We know that we as the parties responsible have let you down and we intend to do better. The board has met over the past few days concerning the serious allegations that have been brought against the association recently on silencing sexual assault cases. We take the matter very seriously. Right now, we will start to work with outside professionals on reviewing all responses to sexual assault and violence within the association and how we have and will support victims. A group of professionals will be established and the Board of the Icelandic Football Association resolves to deal with these matters fully and completely and follow the advice of the group. Additionally, we would like to ask victims or others who have information on serious violence within the association to come forward. We will welcome you with open arms. We want the cases to be handled appropriately and we want to ensure that the responsibility of the violence will be placed on the shoulders of perpetrators, not victims.

We intend to fix things that have been broken and inspect the culture that exists within the football movement from the ground up in order to make sure everyone working within the industry experiences welfare and safety, while listening to victims and taking their interests into consideration.

On account of the statement the board issued on August 17 in response to accusations of violence on behalf of the men’s national team, it should be noted that the statement was based on the limited information the board had at the time, lacking data and further information that have later come to light. We apologise to Hanna Björg Vilhjálmsdóttir and others who stood at the front lines pointing out the violence within the Icelandic Football Association for the statement which belittled their accusations and assumed no responsibility nor sincerity.

It has already been revealed that the Director of the Football Association has resigned and accepted responsibility for how matters were handled. Until further decisions have been made, the Deputy Director will take over his work. All board members have considered their position. In order to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the association, the board’s conclusion is that it is reasonable that they keep their positions until the association’s next annual meeting in February of next year when board members are voted on.

We want to reiterate that the general staff of the Football Association has performed their duties with care and loyalty and holds no responsibility for the events that are unfolding.

This great wave that has been crashing for the past weeks has touched us all. A part of the largest volunteer movement in Iceland, what KSÍ does and says, matters. We have never been as aware of that as we are now and will seek the help of the community to make radical changes, support victims and be a part of the solution. This project will take time but we will begin right away.

The football movement is part of the community and we as a community all need to do better to support victims and fight sexual violence.

The Board of the Football Association: Ásgeir Ásgeirsson, Bjarni Ólafur Birkisson, Björn Friðþjófsson, Borghildur Sigurðardóttir, Gísli Gíslason, Guðjón Bjarni Hálfdánarson, Ingi Sigurðsson, Jakob Skúlason, Jóhann Torfason, Magnús Gylfason, Orri Vignir Hlöðversson, Ragnhildur Skúladóttir, Tómas Þóroddsson, Valgeir Sigurðsson, Þorsteinn Gunnarsson and Þóroddur Hjaltalín.