Honorary position of Danish national team players is required

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Ejgil Jespersen
Independent researcher


Honorary positions in sport institutions are mostly noticed, when a retired president is appointed as an honorary president, and when former well-worn board members are appointed honorary members. The athletes are normally not considered as honorary members during their active sport career.

However, in Team Denmark, the Danish state institution for elite athletes, the athletes are, in fact considered as a sort of honorary members. This is due to the required mindset of not only being proud but also honoured to be among the selected few to represent a national team in their sport, and because the athletes must consider their ardent effort not as labour but, exactly, as an honorary position.

These principal requirements were made clear recently, when Team Denmark (and NOC and Sports Confederation of Denmark) supported Danish Football Association in the rejection of an employer-relationship for the national women team in football. CEO Lone Hansen, Team Denmark, said in a press release

It is not a labour to participate in a national team. (…) It is an honour to be a representative of one’s country through one’s sport. There may well be some reward mechanisms by performing at world class level, but it should not be guiding the motivation.

No doubt – sport for the sake of honour must be the main case for the national team players according to Team Denmark.

The Union of the Danish top football team players and the Danish Trade Union do not agree with the surrendered viewpoint of honour, since today’s world of national sport is characterised by a growing impact of professionalism in several sports including women football.

Therefore, the union representatives are arguing for establishing an employer-employee relationship between the Danish Football Association and the national team players to ensure modern rights-based conditions for the national players instead of celebrating a pre-modern state of sport affairs in terms of honour.

A friendly football match between Holland Women and Denmark Women was cancelled last Friday because of the disagreement.

Yesterday, the contestants signed a part-deal, which implies that Denmark women are playing with the best team today in a World Cup qualification match in Györ against Hungary women. So far, the honorary position of the national team players is settled.

Copyright © Ejgil Jespersen 2017

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