Why Sheffield United’s Ben Woodburn could go up against FUTSAL players when he reports for international duty with Wales

Ben Woodburn of Sheffield United
Ben Woodburn of Sheffield United
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Sheffield United star Ben Woodburn could go head-to-head with FUTSAL players when Wales take on Denmark in the Nations League this weekend.

A dispute over contracts with regular, established Danish starts has led to them naming a second-string squad – including futsal players, for tomorrow’s friendly against Slovakia and the Wales clash on Sunday.

Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported that the squad includes players from the national futsal team. Futsal is a five-a-side football game played mainly indoors on small hard courts with a smaller, harder ball.

The dispute concerns the rights of players, like Spurs’ Christian Eriksen, to sign sponsorship deals with companies that compete with sponsors of the national team. The team’s travelling conditions are also understood to be an issue.

The Danish Football Association (DBU), fearing the prospect of a UEFA ban if they do not fulfil the fixture in Aarhus, have invited players from Superligaen and the first and second divisions in domestic football to play against Slovakia and Wales.

But the Danish Player Association (Spillerforeningen) have urged the DBU to reconsider and told the governing body that the national squad is willing to play the two games under the terms of their old agreement.

"We have to solve this conflict now, not just digging the ditches deeper," Tottenham star Eriksen said in a statement published on the Spillerforeningen website.

"So we're happy to stretch our hand again, even though DBU put it away in the first try.

"Let's renew the old deal by one month. Then we have organised relationships right now and we are prepared to play the international matches this week.

"And then we have time after the two international matches to negotiate the entire agreement in place.

"It does not make sense if DBU does not accept that offer.

"The agreement has been working for years and should only run one month longer.

"Sign up and we will sit on the plane immediately. We are ready and we will play."

Denmark, who reached the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia this summer and are ninth in the FIFA rankings, have been beset by internal problems over the past 12 months.

The national women's team boycotted a World Cup qualifier against Sweden in October 2017 in a dispute over employment conditions.

Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win and UEFA fined the DBU £18,000.

The DBU was also warned that Denmark would be barred from UEFA tournaments if it cancelled another match in the next four years.

So failing to play Wales would almost certainly see Denmark expelled from the 2020 European Championship.

DBU chief executive Claus Bretton-Meyer said on Monday that the Wales game would go ahead, but he branded the dispute "regrettable" with the two parties holding 26 meetings on the issue in 2018.

Former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen has been named as the Denmark manager for the two games.

Regular manager Age Hareide has been told to stay at home and Jensen will take charge of Wednesday's friendly against Slovakia in Trnava and the Wales game this weekend.

DBU elite manager Kim Hallberg said: "We must hold the two international matches to avoid millions of fines and possible exclusion of the national team for several years. On behalf of DBU and Danish football, I am pleased that John Faxe Jensen has taken the hard task of being coach in both matches."

Former Denmark midfielder Jensen, 53, had coaching experience at Blackburn in 2011 and managed Danish club Fremad Amager between 2014 and 2018.

"Where we are now, I see only losers in the conflict, and Danish football losers most of all," Jensen told the official DBU website.

"When I say yes to help here, it's because I feel very very strong for the national team as an institution, and because I think the most important thing must be that the games will be played after all.

"I do not consider the matter between DBU and the players, my yes is not an expression of it.

"I just hope to help us get through the two matches and that the parties find a solution as soon as possible."