Vikings Slug It out

BATTLEOF THE NORDICS:

 

Denmark vs.Sweden in September European Soccer Match

 

By Eric K. Williams

Special to the Danish Pioneer

New York — The second soccer match between Denmark and Sweden’s national teams brought out plenty of “ooohs” and “aaaahhs,” as a crowd numbering in the hundreds gathered at one New York locale in early September to watch. The September 8th contest may have been played in Scandinavia but, to the scores of ex-pat Danes and Swedes present, it was a chance to show their passion on this side of the Atlantic.

They came from across the tri-state region, some wearing team colors, some carrying small flags, while others donned jerseys of their favorite team. It was a gathering not many wanted to miss.

Slate Plus, a trendy Flat Iron-district watering hole in Manhattan, was the place where rival camps of Swedes and Danes met for this contest. Two special large projection screens were added by Slate Plus staff, they had to. While already having more than half a dozen flat screen television sets permanently use, the additional screens were placed just to accommodate the over flowing and passionate crowd.

Thomas Noe, an American of Swedish descent, was the organizer of this event. He is the founder and executive director of INTERNATIONAL SWEDE, a web-based community he had set-up five years ago, to help organize gatherings like this one.  Noe is best known for hosting the annual June Mid-Summer parties in the city. His web site caters to the largely Swedish ex-patriot community but, was quick to add that, “many (Danes) have joined the site and, the Danish community is well represented and, here, we’re all having a good time.”

Yet, that is not all. In addition to throwing parties and networking events, Noe said that he is also involved with New York-based Danish organizations. He said that International Swede is involved with the local Danish Seamen’s Church and, had even submitted a Swedish group to take part in the church’s soccer tournament this Fall. Both Noe and Slate Plus owners said the afternoon crowd brushed near 500 in overall numbers. Noe broke down the numbers of those present and said, “four out of every ten who participated in (his) event,” were Danish.

As passion for the world’s favorite sport was high for supporters of both squads in Denmark’s national arena, passion here, too, was the order of the day. Both teams had played to a 3-3 tie in an emotionally-charged and, controversial late June contest. In that meeting Sweden had jumped out to an early 3-0 lead but, the Danish national team had stormed back late in the match, to tie the score at 3 all.

With just over ten minutes left in regulation, controversy surfaced. One Danish defender had been called for a foul against a Swedish player. It was a vicious elbow that nearly caused both team benches to empty. The foul was committed near the Swedish goal posts and, television replays had showed it was the correct call by the umpiring officials.

Moments later at the Swedish stadium, one angry Danish fan, incensed by the ruling, left his seat, entered the playing field, where he attacked, with a hammer, a game official. It caught fans, players, officials and security completely by surprise. It also shocked a Europe-wide television viewing audience. The irate fan was tackled to the ground and arrested by police. Den Danske Pioneer was told that the arrested man, whose face made the cover of every Copenhagen newspaper, is persona non grata in his native land. The fan, we were told, lives in central Sweden.

Despite the game ending in a 3-3 tie, Sweden was awarded victory in the contest following the fracas. (“The June contest was) one of the greatest games ever played between Denmark and Sweden in more than ten years,” said Andreas Alenius. He was among the Slate Plus crowd that day. Alenius was visiting New York from Sweden and, he was planning to get married the following Monday, at a Mid-town Swedish Seamen’s church ceremony.

This second meeting of the two rivals was a ‘must win’ for the Danish team. They badly needed to win this game outright, to advance in the European soccer playoffs. On this day, however, they came up short, as this second match ended in a 0-0 tie. That means, the Swedish team now advances to the next round of the European soccer championships. Danish spectators left Slate Plus disappointed their team didn’t win, while the Swedes who took part in the viewing breathed a collective sigh of relief.  The two teams will not meet again for least another year.

For the handful of American sport enthusiasts present, ‘the battle of the Nordics’ provided a unique look at a growing trend in the New York region and, that is, of the growing presence of the Scandinavian community locally. The standing-room only crowd also provided a warm, even festive atmosphere, for occasional fans of the sport that the rest of the world follows with intense passion.

Thomas Noe’s web site is:  http://www.internationalswede.com/