Contributed by: Brett Northey
In bad news for the International Cup, one of the leading countries in Denmark has withdrawn from the tournament with just one month notice. The decision leaves the biggest event in international footy with unbalanced pools and potentially a draw in disarray.
The decision was announced on the Danish website. It cites financial issues as the main cause, but additionally the league was having difficulty assembling anything like its strongest squad. The Vikings had suffered injuries to several key players in their small player base, and others had been unable to commit to the trip.
There was always a possibilty that some countries would not make the second Cup. Unless airfare deals can be found, it is difficult to secure Europe-Melbourne return flights for anything less than AU$2500 per person. With squads of around 30, this quickly adds up to the vast bulk of the AU$100000 most leagues anticipate spending on the event.
It is understood that in the case of Denmark serious fundraising only began around January this year, which was always going to make it unlikely that the funds would be raised. It's understood the AFL did try to assist, but even if last minute money was found, the squad was down to 20 players or less.
Unfortunately the DAFL will still lose significant money from cancelled bookings. The one positive from this is that they will not spend the entire sum, which could be used on junior development, if any funds therefore remain. The Danes are the leading European country in junior development, particularly around the Farum region of Copenhagen. In fact they manage to raise the money to send a junior side to Australia every three years, but the senior and junior aspects of the DAFL tend to be independent.
It is not known yet whether the AFL will re-seed teams and re-do the draw, or just allocate the Denmark matches as forfeits. The opening match of the Cup was to be a showcase between Denmark and Japan with local Melbourne schools and dignitaries expected to attend. Hopefully the AFL understands Denmark's late withdrawal and does not penalise them when deciding where to direct future funding. Most of all this is a sad announcement for the Danes, whose players now lose the chance to represent their country and whose juniors may be that little more sceptical about Aussie Rules' credentials in Denmark. Hopefully they are the only side that pulls out, especially given the very late timeframe.
The timing is also poor in that Denmark had just got some good Australia press on its junior and senior programs. See Vikings raid the Australian game at The Age website (may require password login after a few days).
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