Danish Language Blog

A Kingdom for a Ball Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

Portugal 2-3 Denmark, Football

Portugal vs Denmark in 2008 (thanks to Wikimedia)

Spirits are high in Danish barer and værtshuse (pubs) tonight, as well as in countless stuer (homely sitting rooms), where hr. og fru Danmark (the typical Danish family, literally ’Mr and Mrs Denmark’) have just left the television set to fetch something to toast with: Denmark just beat Portugal 2–1! Of course we’re talking about football, that English kick-a-ball-into-a-goal sport which Americans call soccer and we Danes have taken into our hearts as fodbold. (As you may recall, ’ld’ is usually pronounced as ’ll’ in Danish; bold ’ball’, however, is an exception – say ’fodbolt’ and you’ll be understood.)

In Denmark fodbold is simply the sport. It is played by a considerable portion of the country’s drenge (boys), as well as by a sizable number of piger (girls). The grown-ups may opt for the less exhausting bar alternative: Drinking øl with your mates in front of a screen and cheering each time your favorite hold (team(s)) gets a mååål (goaaal!). (And booing each time the modstander ’opponent’ gets one…)

Danish football aficionados eagerly watch the latest kampe (matches) from the English and Spanish ligaer (leagues). German and Italian teams also have their adherents. Notwithstanding the popularity of European hold like Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona, it is Denmark’s own fodboldklubber (football clubs, -klub in the singular) that really make emotions go high. Among the best known clubs we have Brøndby and FC København from Greater Copenhagen, OB (Odense Boldklub) from Odense and AGF from Århus. They all play in superligaen (the super league, above 1. and 2. division).

The great pride of many Danes – even those who aren’t really interested in football – is of course landsholdet (the national team). When drengene (the boys) line up on one half of the fodboldbane (football field), shuffling their feet and waiting in their red and white dragter (outfits) for the match to start, Denmark holds its breath with them. And sometimes it works: We still like to remind each other of 1992, when tiny Denmark beat our populous neighbour Germany and became European Champion…

Football links Denmark to the greater world. On travels abroad I’ve often been met with blank stares when telling people of my home region. But all of a sudden they light up: Ah, that’s where Michael Laudrup and Peter Schmeichel are from! The conversation may begin…

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About the Author: Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.