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: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

7 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

7 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

7 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

7 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

7 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

7 months ago

Qatar critic Denmark meets Arab nation Tunisia at World Cup