Qatar critic Denmark meets Arab nation Tunisia at World Cup

Nov 20, 2022, 12:40 PM | Updated: Nov 21, 2022, 2:52 am
Tunisians gather to celebrate and represent their community in front of the official FIFA World Cup...

Tunisians gather to celebrate and represent their community in front of the official FIFA World Cup Countdown Clock on Doha's corniche, only 30 days away from the event, in Qatar, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

(AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)

              Elementary school children attend an event to send off the Danish national soccer team on their journey to the World Cup in Qatar, from the Vilhelm Lauritzen Terminal in Copenhagen, Denmark, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022. (Ida Marie Odgaard/Ritzau Scanpix via AP)
              Kasper Schmeichel of the Denmark's national soccer team, right, arrives with teammate Christian Eriksen at Hamad International airport in Doha, Qatar, Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2022 ahead of the upcoming World Cup. Denmark will play their first match in the World Cup against Tunisia on Nov. 22. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
              Tunisians gather to celebrate and represent their community in front of the official FIFA World Cup Countdown Clock on Doha's corniche, only 30 days away from the event, in Qatar, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)
              FILE - Tunisia's Aissa Bilal Laidouni, center, Mohamed Drager, right, and Saif Eddine Khaoui celebrate a goal during the World Cup 2022 group B qualifying soccer match between Tunisia and Zambia at the Rades stadium near Tunis, Tunisia, Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Hassene Dridi, File)

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — When Denmark meets Tunisia in the World Cup on Tuesday it will pit one of the most outspoken critics of the tournament being hosted by Qatar against one of the four Arab nations competing.

The game at Education City Stadium will also mark Christian Eriksen’s return to a major tournament after his cardiac arrest at last year’s European Championship.

Denmark has lofty goals following a semifinal appearance at Euro 2020 followed by a near-perfect qualifying campaign, while Tunisia is seeking to advance from the group stage for the first time in its sixth World Cup appearance.

Since arrival in Qatar, Denmark has been training in kits that are all black to mourn migrant workers who died building infrastructure for the tournament.

Denmark was also planning on wearing the “One Love” anti-discrimination armband along with other European teams before the campaign was dropped when FIFA threatened to hand out yellow cards.

“Imagine going on the pitch with a clear yellow card to start with. That is not possible and we have to make sure that it’s not up to the players to make that decision,” Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand said.

Tunisia coach Jalal Kadri also addressed the armband issue.

“We are in an Arab country with Islam tradition. We have to respect the culture of other people,” Kadri said in Arabic through an interpreter. “We are here in Qatar and I think the policy in Qatar is to respect everyone’s culture and religious beliefs.”

Danish Football Union sporting director Peter Møller was critical of how FIFA president Gianni Infantino lectured the media on the eve of the tournament for attacking Qatar’s human rights record and defended the host country’s last-minute decision to ban beer from stadiums.

“Some of the things he said I don’t agree with. He talks down to journalists and us federations,” Møller said.

“On the one hand I’m surprised by it but on the other hand it says something that he used an entire speech to discuss what we and other federations are fighting against so he knows well that this is a hot potato and that he needs to deal with it the next time a host is chosen,” Møller added.

Also last week, Qatari organizers apologized to a Danish television station whose live broadcast from a street in Doha was interrupted by security staff who threatened to break camera equipment; while left-wing Danish newspaper Information announced it’s not covering the World Cup at all in protest of Qatar’s policies.

Eriksen’s return, though, remains one of the tournament’s most moving stories, less than 18 months after medics used a defibrillator to restart his heart as a horrified nation — and much of the soccer world — watched on as he lay lifeless on the field at Parken Stadium in Copenhagen.

It’s the latest step of a remarkable comeback that has already seen Eriksen return to elite soccer in the Premier League, first with London club Brentford and then Manchester United — showing he is still among the world’s best playmakers. He made his national team comeback in March, scoring two minutes after coming on a substitute in a 4-2 loss to the Netherlands. He also netted with a 25-yard shot against Croatia in the Nations League in September.

“It is special,” Eriksen said. “From the first interview I did from when I came out in public saying I wanted to come back playing, (competing at the World Cup) was my first aim.”

Inspired by Eriksen’s ordeal and the way Kjær and others helped save him, Denmark’s squad bonded together as an even closer-knit group in the aftermath — and the team’s results have raised expectations.

“We are dreaming of something big,” Eriksen said. “The belief in this squad, and from (the media), from the fans, was bigger when I came back (compared to) before.”

Tunisia has produced only two World Cup wins — the first against Mexico in 1978 and then against Panama four years ago in Russia.

But with fans from the country traveling en masse to the first World Cup in the Middle East, coach Jalel Kadri has indicated he will step down if Tunisia fails to reach the knockout rounds. That’s a tall task in Group D, which also features defending champion France and Australia.

Tunisia is also counting on loud support from Egyptians and Algerians.

“All Arab communities will be supporting us,” said Tunisia forward Issam Jebali, who plays for Danish club Odense. “We hope to live up to the expectations of each and every Arab country.”


AP World Cup coverage: and


Andrew Dampf is at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner sits during the first half of Game 2 of basketball's ...
Associated Press

Griner’s home, but WNBA players still competing overseas

Brittney Griner is back in the United States after an arduous 10-month saga in Russia. Yet nearly half of her WNBA peers opted to compete abroad this winter to supplement their incomes. None are playing in Russia, for obvious reasons — Griner’s ordeal and the country’s ongoing war with Ukraine — but 67 of the […]
2 days ago
England's head coach Gareth Southgate, left, and Harry Kane speak to the media during a press confe...
Associated Press

England coach lets captain Kane do final World Cup pep talk

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — England coach Gareth Southgate has nothing to tell his players just before they leave the locker room to play defending champion France in the World Cup quarterfinals on Saturday. That is his choice, preferring players to take control and citing his own playing experience of managers who could “mess it up” […]
2 days ago
Luka Modric celebrates after Croatia defeated Brazil in a penalty shootout during a World Cup quart...
Associated Press

Modric’s moves help Croatia eliminate Brazil from World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — The slippery hips of Luka Modric wriggled away from danger. The laser-like precision of his passing — and the intelligence to control the tempo for long periods — were ever present, as is usual. There was the customary adjustment of his hairband here, a tug of his captain’s armband there. […]
2 days ago
FILE - A sign on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington, Vt., is pictured on March 11, 2020...
Associated Press

Students sue Vermont school over response to sex assaults

Three women are suing the University of Vermont, saying the school failed to adequately respond after they reported they had been sexually assaulted while students on the Burlington campus. The civil suit, which is seeking unspecified damages, says that after the three women were sexually assaulted a number of administrators and school staff showed “deliberate […]
2 days ago
People celebrate Morocco's win over Spain in a World Cup match played in Qatar, in Rabat, Morocco, ...
Associated Press

‘Our pride’: Morocco keeps Africa’s hope alive in World Cup

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — For many in Africa, Morocco’s underdog performance is the best story in the World Cup so far, with the hopes of the continent soaring ahead of the match on Saturday against Portugal. Across the continent of more than 1.3 billion people, African fans are excited that Morocco has become the fourth […]
2 days ago
Brazil's Neymar, right, and Croatia's Marcelo Brozovic, left, fight for the ball during the World C...
Associated Press

Neymar ties Pelé’s all-time record with Brazil at World Cup

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Neymar moved into a tie with Pelé as Brazil’s all-time leading scorer with 77 goals on Friday. The Brazil forward scored in the first half of extra time of his team’s World Cup quarterfinal match against Croatia. Neymar scored with a right-footed shot after getting through the defense and dribbling […]
2 days ago
Qatar critic Denmark meets Arab nation Tunisia at World Cup