Iceland Qualifies for Women’s Handball Euro

Stavanger, Norway

With a victory over the Faroe Islands Sunday, Iceland women’s national handball team has qualified for the 2024 European Women’s Handball Championship.

Iceland beat the Faroe Islands 24-20 with a big performance from Elín Klara Þorkelsdóttir, who scored 10 goals, RÚV reports. Goalkeeper Elín Jóna Þorsteinsdóttir blocked 16 shots, including three penalty shots.

Dominant performance

The Faroese team led for part of the first half, but Iceland took over the game, leading by four goals at half-time. Iceland’s defence was stellar, limiting Faroe Islands to 8 goals in the first half. Iceland held the lead for the entire second half.

At the end of the game, which took place at Ásvellir stadium in Hafnarfjörður, there was much celebration, as the Faroe Islands also secured qualification despite the loss.

Back in the big tournaments

The tournament will take place in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland in November and December this year and will feature 24 teams. Norway are the two time defending champions.

Iceland has appeared in the tournament twice before, in 2010 and 2012. The women’s national handball team also qualified for the World Championship last year, where the team beat Congo to finish in 25th place.

Plans for New National Arena Announced

Laugardalur, Reykjavík

A new National Arena for sports will seat 8,600 attendees and be opened to the public in 2027 or 2028. At a press conference yesterday, Minister of Education and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason announced an open competition for the design and construction of the building, which is to be located in Laugardalur in Reykjavík.

The National Arena will cost an approximate ISK 15 Billion [$110 Million, €100 Million] and will be in 55% ownership of the Icelandic state and 45% by Reykjavík city, Mbl.is reports.

Handball championship dreams

Iceland has a joint bid with Denmark and Norway to host the 2029 or 2031 World Men’s Handball Championship. When asked about the arena’s capacity, Ásmundur said jovially that that he could see the arena being completely packed with people “when Iceland becomes world champion”.

The design competition will be open to teams that include an architect, an engineer and contractors. Qualifying teams will receive funding to prepare a design proposal and a bid in accordance with specs and cost projections.

Football, track and field next

Two other sports-related construction projects are still in the early stages, a National Stadium for football and a National Stadium for track and field. Ásmundur said that the arena was being prioritised as it could be completed more easily and service youth sports and local sport clubs as well.

I’m looking for an old football programme from Iceland. Where can I look?

timarit.is morgunblaðið

We admit we’re a little out of our depth with this one as the original question specifically referred to a 1967 match between Aberdeen and KR.

Although we have already outlined some tips for antique hunters looking for Icelandic used books, vintage coins, stamps, and so on, we thought this was also a good opportunity to point amateur researchers and historians to some useful resources.

Tímarit (timarit.is) is an excellent place to begin if you’re looking for anything historical in Iceland. It’s a digitised database of nearly every newspaper that’s been in print in Iceland for the last century, meaning that every day’s headlines reaching back to the turn of the century are available for browsing, free, anywhere in the world. Other periodicals are also available on Tímarit as well.

A quick search turned up the daily news coverage of the match in question, for example.

Another useful resource that’s more specialised, but still worth pointing out, is handrit.is.

At Handrit, you can access digitised versions of manuscripts found in several major manuscript collections, such as the Árni Magnússon Institute for Icelandic Studies, and collections at the National Library of Iceland.

While generally a tool for scholarly research, it’s free to use for all. Amateur historians can, for example, peruse the recently rediscovered manuscripts found in the archives at Handrit, and also access the original sources for much of mediaeval Icelandic literature.

Rosé and 10K (at the Reykjavík Marathon)

reykjavík marathon

It was a season of debauchery. A season of cocktail-filled nights and subpar parenting.A season of good-natured rationalisation.“The good thing about drinking while raising two young boys,” I observed, “is that I have four hands. Sometimes six.”I was in Surrey when I made that observation. Surrey in English means Sorry – in reference to how insufferably […]

This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

Continue reading

Mud, Sweat, and Gears

motorsports iceland

The motorsport Formula Offroad began in Iceland in the 1960s. The history of the sport is traced to rescue teams, who in an effort to generate additional funding for their chapters, began showcasing their 4×4 trucks navigating challenging Icelandic terrain. And what started as a demonstration evolved into a competitive endeavour among teams, with custom-built […]

This content is only visible under subscription. Subscribe here or log in.

Continue reading

Footballer, Sports Commentator Bjarni Felixson Passes Away

Bjarni Felixson

Veteran sports journalist and former Icelandic national footballer Bjarni Felixson passed away at the age of 86 yesterday, RÚV reports. Known as “the Red Lion,” Bjarni Felixson had a storied career in football before transitioning to journalism, where he became a household name.

“The Red Lion”

Veteran sports journalist and former Icelandic national footballer Bjarni Felixson passed away yesterday at the age of 86. As noted by RÚV, Bjarni was in Denmark to attend the funeral of longtime friend Finn Heiner. The duo originally met during their respective careers at RÚV and DR, Iceland and Denmark’s national broadcasters, forming a lifelong friendship.

Survived by his wife Álfheiður Gísladóttir, four children, and a combined 14 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Bjarni was born in Reykjavík on December 27, 1936. He gained prominence as a left-fback for the dominant KR team of the 1950s and ’60s, amassing five Icelandic championships and seven cup titles while earning six caps for the national team.

Known affectionately as “the Red Lion,” a moniker coined by his teammates, Bjarni Felixson came from a footballing family; both of his brothers also donned the national jersey. In 1963, all three of them played against England in an international match.

Colourful commentary

Bjarni Felixson transitioned into journalism in 1968, joining the National Broadcaster (RÚV), where he served for 42 years. He became a household name for his coverage of national and international sports, notably English football. Bjarni was known for his colourful commentary, once stating that a football team had “conceded a corner kick in a dangerous area.”

Bjarni witnessed the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, later recounting the emotional toll of reporting the event where 96 fans lost their lives.

Throughout his illustrious career, Bjarni received numerous accolades, including the gold medal of the National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland (ÍSÍ) on his sixtieth birthday and an honorary plaque from the Football Association of Iceland (KSÍ). Last year, he was conferred the Knight’s Cross of the Order of the Falcon by President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson for his contributions to sports, social affairs, and communication.

Bjarni’s legacy extends beyond journalism and football; two Reykjavík establishments, the Red Lion and Bjarni Fel Sportbar, were named in his honour.

On the Edge of Glory

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

By the start of Iceland’s latest basketball season, the northerners of Tindastóll, from Sauðárkrókur (pop. 2,612), had made it to the league finals on four occasions. Four times, they left without a trophy. No other team had made it so far, so often, without anything to show for it.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

This year, the Fates seemed set on weaving a familiar narrative. Excitement brewed, and crescendoed, as the Championship trophy was driven to Sauðárkrókur, Tindastóll’s home turf, during game four of the finals, in anticipation of the team’s first title.

icelandic basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Previous slide
Next slide

Game five began ominously. It was Tindastóll’s final chance to take the title, but Valur dominated the first quarter, and by the closing minutes of the fourth, appeared to have the championship within its grasp: 77-72.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball

A minute is a long time in basketball.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball

In a scene ripped straight out of a sports film, during one of thosehalfunbelievable sequences of events, which occur so rarely so late inthe season – Tindastóll levelled the game with 15 seconds to go.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

79-79.

Valur’s head coach, Finnur Freyr Stefánsson, called a timeout and drew up a play for Kári Jónsson. He drove past Tindastóll’s defence and netted a tough shot with five seconds left on the clock.
81-79. All hope seemed to have faded.

As the players huddled around, Pavel Ermolinskij – head coach ofTindastóll for all of four months, eight-time national champion, and a former player for Valur – took to the playbook.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball

When play resumed, Tindastóll’s Keyshawn Woods drew a foul on a three point attempt. With the weight of the entire season on his shoulders, he sank the first of three free throws. The next two bounced precariously around the rim – before ultimately sealing Tindastóll’svictory.
81-82.

Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball
Tindastóll Iceland basketball

From the Archive: The Ancient Art of Glíma

glíma wrestling iceland

From the archive: In this 1999 article from Iceland Review, Jón Ívarson delves into the history of Icelandic wrestling. Note that this archival content may not necessarily reflect the current editorial standards of Iceland Review.

The one truly Icelandic national sport is a type of wrestling known as glíma. After decades of neglect, glíma has been enjoying a major revival in popularity during recent years, especially among young people.

Wrestling has been practiced in Iceland ever since the country was settled, and there are early references to a form based on tricks performed with the legs and feet. The name “glíma” is first mentioned in the 12th century, and it is thought probable that the word means “the game of gladness.”

The most likely explanation of the origin of glíma seems to be that two types of wrestling, that of the “Eastmen” (Norwegians) which did not employ foot tricks, and that of the “Westmen” (Irish) which did, merged in Iceland to produce a new sport – glíma. Wrestling based on so-called “trouser-grips” was practiced for hundreds of years in Iceland and continued almost unchanged right up to this century. At the same time, however, other forms of wrestling were also in use: the so-called “loose-grips,” in which it was permitted to grip the opponent’s body more or less anywhere, and “back-spanning,” both of which often amounted to a mere trial of strength. It is worth noting that glíma-trained men would sometimes incorporate tricks from “back-spanning” if they could get away with them.

glíma wrestling iceland

More or less everything in Iceland was originally imported - our language, industry, occupations, sports - everything, that is, except glíma, which is wholly Icelandic. It seems quite miraculous that here in Iceland we should develop a form of wrestling which is based more on technique and artistry than on energy, weight and strength as is the case with most other types of wrestling in the world. Glíma is one of 112 recognised types of national wrestling throughout the world.

Glíma wrestlers keep a firm grasp on a harness which is fastened around each contestant’s waist and thighs. No other grips are permitted. Tricks are then applied with the feet, and the body is employed with bends, jerks and swings to upset the opponent’s balance and knock him to the ground, a fall marking the end of the contest.

A picturesque sport

Foreigners who watch glíma wrestling are without exception struck by its lightness, and many people find it a picturesque sport. Our neighbors, the Norwegians and Danes, once had their own traditional wrestling sports, but these disappeared long ago, and in Sweden, the only remnant survives on the island of Gotland. These countries greatly envy the Icelanders their glíma. The English, Scots, and Bretons, on the other hand, have their own national wrestling styles that are enthusiastically maintained.

Right up until this century, glíma was a form of wrestling in which the contestants took a grip on each other’s clothes using so-called “trouser-grips.” The trousers of glíma heroes had to suffer a great deal of wear and tear before people came up with the idea of gripping-straps, which subsequently developed into a special harness used in Iceland since the first decade of this century.

In glíma the contestants must stand upright. In all other forms of wrestling contestants bend over as far as they can, their stance resembling a 90° angle, but bending is banned in glíma where it is considered a major fault.

During the last few centuries, glíma was practiced in schools, at fishing camps, and as a recreation on festive occasions, such as wedding feasts. People also used to enjoy a match or two after church. The usual practice was for contestants to be divided into two groups for team-wrestling (lit. “farmers’ wrestling”), a form which was especially common in temporary fishing camps where two crews would compete to defend the honor of their boats.

iceland glima wrestling

Symbol of nationalism

Shortly after the turn of the century, there was a great upsurge of national feeling among Iceland’s young people. Although still ruled by Denmark, the nation was beginning to find its feet again and was no longer content with its lack of freedom. One sign of this was the formation of youth societies in every district. These were highly nationalist in their sympathies and came to see glíma as a symbol of national revival and the struggle for independence.

Glíma is characterised by treading or stepping. Contestants take a special sequence of steps between bouts which cause them to move in a circle, keeping constantly in motion. An airy, circular movement which resembles the steps of a dancer, stepping serves the purpose of maintaining the sport’s lightness and creating openings for attack and defence. Competent stepping is an essential feature of good glíma.

Glíma has probably never been practiced as widely as it was during this period. In 1907, a wrestling competition was held on Thingvellir, the Parliament Plains, which was without doubt the most famous sporting event ever held in Iceland. It was known as the King’s glíma of 1907, as in that year Iceland was visited by the King of Denmark for only the second time in history. Glíma was the natural choice as representing the best, most nationalist display the Icelanders could put on for such an important head of state. Johannes Josefsson, the great champion from Akureyri in the north of Iceland, swore an please clean up this text by fixing the spacing and spelling:  oath to uphold the honour of the Northerners by remaining undefeated in the King’s glíma on Thingvellir plains, or never hold up his head again. The Icelandic nation went wild at this bold claim and glíma champions from the south of Iceland began to train for all they were worth to take the swaggering Northerner down a peg or two. For months no one talked of anything in Iceland but who would triumph in the King’s glíma. No national games or sporting event today has attracted anything like as much attention. In the event, Josefsson came third, and the story of the competition is related in many books, not least in Josefsson’s own highly entertaining biography Johannes of Borg. Josefsson later went abroad and became a famous circus-performer in America. Using glíma as the basis for his self-defence method, he took on everyone from boxers to knife-fighters and was victorious every time. Josefsson came home in 1927, so rich as a result of his shows that he was able to build Hotel Borg in Reykjavik largely out of his own pocket.

Glíma becomes a competitive sport

During these years, glíma changed from being a popular pastime, practised in a haphazard fashion according to the occasion, into being a competitive sport with strict regulations and official tournaments. People stopped ripping each other’s trousers and began instead to use the glíma harness. In 1906 the first Icelandic glíma championship was held. This tournament celebrated its 90th anniversary last year and is thus the oldest sports competition in the country. The “Grettir” Belt (named after one of the most famous wrestlers and saga heroes of ancient times) is the most magnificent and historically renowned prize in Icelandic sporting history and the title of “glíma king” has a special ring to it. Two other historic glíma competitions are Skjaldarglíma Armanns, named in honour of Reykjavik’s greatest wrestling champion, which has been going since 1908, and Skjaldarglíma Skarphedins which has been held in the south of Iceland since 1910.

glima wrestling in iceland

During the Second World War years, glíma was abandoned in many districts as a large number of people moved away from the countryside. Many went to Reykjavik, however, where wrestling continued to be practised vigorously. The greatest glíma champion in the country at that time was Gudmundur Agustsson, who some consider the best wrestler of the century. Agustsson was a glamorous figure and fine wrestler and there is no doubt that the attendance at glíma matches increased greatly when he took part, the increase being largely accounted for by female admirers.

On the rise

The rules of glíma were amended in 1966 to make the sport lighter and nimbler and to reduce the abuses or fouls which had always tended to blight the game. As part of this process the wrestlers’ canvas shoes were replaced with leather ones and adjustments were made to their harnesses.

It is not permitted to commit a foul in glíma. The attacker must keep his balance once the trick has been executed and must not fall on top of his opponent on the ground, as this would be considered a foul. The concept of a foul hardly exists in foreign forms of wrestling. In the opinion of the Glíma Association, these three factors combine to make glíma a particularly attractive spectator sport and it is therefore vital that we continue to honour them.

During the last decade, the age of glíma contestants has been lowered and women have at last been permitted to enter the arena. Teenagers are now allowed to wrestle but must do so on mattresses to avoid injury, and this has given good results. The main problem facing glíma is that few practise the sport and there are barely enough trainers to go round. The Glíma Association has reacted to this state of affairs with an energetic campaign to introduce the sport to elementary schools all over the country. This has proved successful and glíma is now practised in places where it had not been seen for decades, and the number of contestants in wrestling competitions, particularly in the younger categories, has dramatically increased. For example, in 1983 there were only 9 contestants for the Icelandic glíma championship in all age and weight categories while, in contrast, at the last Championship in 1997 there were 120 participants. This has led to increased optimism that glíma is on the way to enjoying a new heyday at the end of the century, reminiscent of its popularity in the early days of the youth society movement.

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.