Denmark coach Nils Nielsen was in fiery mood ahead of his side’s EURO 2017 final against the Netherlands tomorrow after responding to criticism by former men’s international, Arnold Mühren.
Mühren, who won the European Championship with the Netherlands in 1988 alongside the likes of Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit, is quoted in news outlet the Telegraaf criticising the level of the Dutch team.
In the piece, the former midfielder is quoted as saying, “If you put the Dutch women’s team in front of a 5-member squad, they would still have big problems,” while he went onto say, “Men are much faster and stronger than women. Therefore, women would not be able to cope with men. Duel strength and running capacity are rooted in men.”
Nielsen, who opened by saying how incredible it was to be in the final and how his side was going to be playing “the best team in the tournament,” went onto rubbish Mühren’s comments in a fiery and passionate response.
“I hardly ever get angry, (but) yesterday when I was reading something in a Dutch newspaper, I got a little bit angry.
“One of the heroes from the men’s team in 88 that won the European Championship for Holland, was talking about the women’s team, and I have no idea why he would say something like that.”
Whilst the Dane’s Head Coach did not name check Mühren, the fact he made this one of the main talking points, unprompted, at his final press conference before the final, showed how disappointed he was by the comments.
The piece in the Telegraaf sees a number of comparisons between the men’s and women’s game, with Jens Rebensdorff, a journalist and columnist, also stating that “women’s football is just not exciting to look at.”
“I really hope everybody in Holland is going to back your team up, because this team deserve respect – they are playing so well and fighting for a European Championship,” said Nielsen.
“I hope it will be the same in Denmark, if you don’t like women’s football, please be quiet, don’t be disrespectful, let the girls play because they deserve some credit and there is going to be a great final.
“Please show them respect and back them up – both countries, ok.”
Nielsen was on great form in his press conference, describing the game against the hosts as being similar to that of Rocky Balboa against Apollo Creed from the Rocky movies, having already fought the Dutch in the group stages.
“Like in the Rocky Balboa movies, in the first match between Rocky and Apollo Creed, Apollo Creed was a bit surprised that Rocky actually fought back, and we thought back in the second half.
“With the match tomorrow with Holland, it’s going to be like the second match between Apollo Creed and Rocky, this time Rocky is going to win.”
While Nielsen was adamant his team will be ready for tomorrow’s final and will give absolutely everything, the main talking point was his opening statement about respect for women’s football.
When pressed to expand on his comments, he continued to defend the sport in his own unique way.
“What I was reading was disrespectful, which is why I said something.
“If you go to a candy store and you buy chocolate, then you want to taste chocolate. But if you buy an ice-cream, and you want to taste chocolate, then it’s going to taste weird. This is the same with the women’s game.
“If you’re going to turn on the TV for the women’s game, enjoy the women’s game, don’t compare it to anything other than the women’s game. If you don’t want to watch women’s football, don’t turn on the TV, don’t come to the stadium, but show some respect to the players.
“These girls, the Dutch team and the Danish team, they are fighting for their country, they want to win a championship for their country.
“Be proud of them god damnit, that’s all I’m saying.”