Denmark remain open despite terrorism threat

KNYSNA, South Africa - While the French have barricaded themselves inside Fort France for much of their World Cup training camp, their Western Cape neighbours Denmark have made their home base an open house.

Long regarded as one of football's most approachable teams, the Danes have continued that tradition in South Africa in the face of ominous terror threats that would have driven other teams into seclusion.

If any team in South Africa demands protection it would be Denmark, after an alleged al Qaeda plot targeting the national team was uncovered by Iraq security officials.

In 2005, a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad sparking violent protests. Muslims consider any depiction of the founder of Islam to be offensive.

Danish team officials have acknowledged the threat and added on extra-security but are determined to maintain the same open door policy they have employed at other World Cups.

"If there had been a security issue we would have had to listen to that obviously but since it is our wish to be open and accessible to the public it is the challenge we have given to the security people to solve for us," Danish team media officer Lars Berendt said.

"It is a security issue and it has been discussed but it will not prevent us from doing what we've been doing."


Many teams take on a bunker mentality at the World Cup in a bid to tightly control the outside factors that might affect their squads.

The French and Danes may have set up camp in the same location but the atmosphere could not be more different.

France have had no public training sessions with armed guards keeping media and fans at a distance. Some French players have refused to talk to the press while others have not had much to say.

Across the road from the French media headquarters the entire Danish squad meets with their press contingent for at least 15 minutes every day unless they have injuries.

Nicklas Bendtner was the only player missing on Thursday although the striker, who has been struggling with a groin problem and had been working on his fitness alone, was able to join the rest of the squad for training.

Denmark press briefings feel more like a tea party than a press briefing as players mingle with the media, some developing into deep discussions while others joke and share a laugh.

Denmark's training sessions have been watched by hundreds of locals many blowing vuvuzelas - a kind of trumpet - and the team has ventured into townships to distribute football gear.

"It's the Danish way," Liverpool defender Daniel Agger told Reuters. "It's not the best way all the time but it's a good way.

"It's very relaxed and I think we show a good attitude by doing this by being relaxed and focused. In the end that's what's all about.

"We have a really good feeling about this place. Everyone is so happy, everyone has been really good and we want to give something back."

For the Danes, who open their World Cup account with a Group E clash against the Netherlands on Monday, there is more to fear than a few questions.

"It's always been like this in Denmark," long-serving forward Jon Dahl Tomasson said. "Now with the cartoons and so on security has been tightened a bit but it's nothing that we feel every day.

"Our relationship with the fans has always been close even in the bad times. We respect them and they respect us if they see we try to do our best."

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