Saturday, June 09, 2007

Danes No Walkover

Northern Ireland's hopes of qualifying for the European Championship finals have been dealt a serious blow following UEFA's decision to hand Sweden a 3-0 win over Denmark for the match that was abandoned in Copenhagen last Saturday because of an attack on the referee on a drunken Danish fan. Denmark will also be forced to play their remaining four home games at least 250 miles from Copenhagen, effectively necessitating trips out of the country. Spain will therefore treat their away assignment against the Danes in October with somewhat less trepidation as the Danes are now effectively out of the tournament.

It is difficult to argue with the decision to punish Denmark and the Danes said beforehand that they would not do so themselves but there should be some evenhandedness as third parties are effected by such decisions. Sweden now have a three-goal advantage that they did not earn; would it not make more sense to award Sweden the points without any goals awarded and leave a 3-0 defeat in place for Denmark, as fitting punishment? A similar thing happened in the French league a couple of weeks ago where a match between Nantes and Toulouse was abandoned at 0-0 by the referee because of a pitch invasion by Nantes supporters. Toulouse were given the points, which ultimately allowed them to sneak the last Champion's League spot ahead of Rennes. Though the rules stated clearly that victory goes to the non-offending side, the referee in this case did not wait until 45 minutes after the incident to abandon the game (as the rules also state). Neither did Herbert Fandel, the referee in Copenhagen, though to be fair to him, he might have reasonably felt shaken after the attack. I wonder how that muppet of a fan feels now, and does he have any friends left after it?