Huddersfield Town v Crystal Palace: Lossl has to stay silent over Danish dilemma
THIS week there has only been one topic on the lips of Jonas Lossl's family, friends and even his Huddersfield Town team-mates.
Namely the stand-off between Denmark’s elite footballers and their football association that led to a scratch team, featuring a mixture of unknown lower league and Futsal players, taking on Slovakia 10 days ago.
A row over the terms of the players’ contracts – which had run out on July 31 – saw the squad that had reached the last 16 of the World Cup just a couple of months earlier sit out the friendly in Trnava.
Fears last Sunday’s opening Nations League group game with Wales would suffer a similar fate – the makeshift XI that lost 3-0 to Slovakia had a salesman starting up front, a student at right-back and an internet ‘sensation’ in midfield – were eventually allayed by a temporary truce that allowed Kasper Schmeichel, Christian Erikssen et al to return in Sunday’s 2-0 triumph for the Danes.
Lossl, and club-mate Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen flew back to England straight after that win and the Terriers goalkeeper admits: “The lads, family, friends –everyone has been asking.
“No one knows what has happened. We know, of course, but others do not know.
“If you take Twitter or Instagram, you can see the 100 critical comments. There was a lot of negativity around it. In the end, there was so much information out there. People thought it was about money or image rights. It wasn’t. In the end it was about a third thing. I can’t comment on that, but I understand why the impression got out there and why people were quick to shoot and say, ‘I hate those guys, why don’t they just play for the honour?’
“But we do. The honour we feel (when playing for Denmark) is so strong.”
Rows between players and governing bodies are nothing new, of course. England’s players once threatened to strike over what they considered to be the harsh treatment of Rio Ferdinand by the Football Association over a missed drugs test in 2003.
Then there was the labour dispute between the Danish League and the country’s professional players four years ago that saw the withdrawal by the clubs of a collective bargaining agreement lead to a threatened boycott.
Both rows were resolved before those threats were carried out, just as Lossl had anticipated would happen earlier this month.
“I did think it would get sorted before the first game,” added the 29-year-old to The Yorkshire Post. “I really did. I was surprised that we didn’t come through in that first game.
“That is why we went home to Denmark. All the players stayed there. The (Slovakia) match was difficult to watch. That was not our decision to do the things we did.
“We went home together as a group, to be there until – as we say in Denmark – the 11th hour. So, if they said we had an agreement, we could go straight there to play the game. Difficult.”
Talks over extending the deal between the players and the DBU (Danish FA) had started in January, but progress was difficult.
Now, however, there is genuine hope that agreement can be reached to ensure next month’s double-header against the Republic of Ireland and Austria goes ahead as planned.
With those talks still on-going, Lossl understandably cannot say any more about what caused the initial row.
But the Town goalkeeper does believe the saga has underlined just how strong the bond is among a group who only bowed out of the World Cup on penalties against eventual finalists Croatia.
“The spirit among the Denmark lads is similar to here at Huddersfield,” said the goalkeeper ahead of today’s return to Premier League action at home to Crystal Palace. “The coach says it every time a new player comes in, ‘Take him in and make him part of the team’.
“It is such an important thing. In Denmark we still have the advantage of us all coming from similar backgrounds. The Danish culture as well, that makes it special.
“The thing is this was not only the 23 players, this was the whole of football – the first division, the second division and most of the third as well.
“Most of these guys had such a long way to go to get that one game. But they said, ‘No, we stand behind them’. It did touch us all. That is the thing to take out of this for me.”
Lossl’s focus, like that of Jorgensen, is now fully on Huddersfield and the quest for Premier League survival. There are four top-flight fixtures before Denmark are next due to meet up as a squad and his only concern is Town earning a decent number of points.
However, when pressed on whether he expects the row surrounding the Danish national team to still be bubbling come October 7 when he is next due to head off on international duty, Lossl said: “No, I do not expect the same situation to happen again.
“You saw how catastrophic it was. It is not a possibility to go there again – not for us and not for the organisation.
“We have one common goal – the players and the organisation – that is Euro 2020. Some of the games are played in Denmark, the first time ever. That is a big thing for us.
“No one has won in this. When you look from the outside, everyone lost a little bit. The organisation feels the same way. We all feel, as players, we did the right thing by standing together for our rights and we felt a big support from the Danish football community.
“Now we just need to find the best way of going forward. It has been very bad to miss a game. I hope when we get the agreement we can come to a long-term understanding.”