KATIE MISHNER / AIPS in ENSCHEDE*: “Give women’s football the damn respect it deserves,” exclaimed Denmark manager Nils Nielsen during the final pre-match press conference of the UEFA Women’s EURO.

His outburst was not prompted by a question but by criticism of the women’s national team by former Netherlands player Arnold Mühren in Dutch news outlet De Telegraaf.

The 66-year-old, a men’s Euro winner in 1988, said: “If you put the Dutch women’s team in front of a Serie 5 amateur team, they would still be having big problems.”

Nielsen spoke up before the media had time to ask any questions, stating that he had read Mühren’s comments and wanted to respond.

He said: “A player from the men’s team in 1988 that won the European championship for Holland was talking about the women’s team. I have no idea why he would actually say something like that.”

Nielsen illustrated his point further by praising the Netherlands team his side confront in Sunday’s final in Enschede.


He said: “I would hope everyone in Holland is going to back their team up. This team deserve respect, they have played so well. They are fighting for the European Championship.”

The final element of Nielsen’s statement was directed towards anyone sharing Mühren’s opinions.

Nielsen said: “If you don’t like women’s football, please be quiet, don’t say anything, don’t be disrespectful, let the girls play.

“We’re going to have a great final tomorrow, we have the two best teams in the tournament, they are going to play their heart out trying to win a European championship for the first time in many, many years for their country. Please show respect and back them up. Both countries, OK?”

Captain Pernille Harder described her manager as “always on fire” as he continued with zealous metaphors, comments and answers to questions.

These included comparing Denmark to Rocky in which, the Sylvester Stallone’s character came back unexpectedly to face Apollo Creed [the Netherlands] in the final – and win.

** AIPS is the international sports journalists’ association with 10,000 members worldwide. and is currently undertaking a Young Reporters course in the Netherlands in co-operation with UEFA, More information: www.AIPSmedia.com

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