Can Greenland Emulate Iceland's Rise In The Footballing World?
The Yellow Llama takes a look at a football mad territory high on land mass but low on population and facilities
Iceland's incredible performances in recent years have caught the attention of football fans worldwide. The underdogs have brought a wry smile to neutrals pleased that the established footballing world order is being challenged and who doesn't enjoy their fans' fearsome Viking Clap Chant?
In 2010 Iceland were languishing at #112 place in the FIFA rankings. Fast forward to present day July 2020 and you'll find them sitting pretty at #21 in the World Football Charts. A memorable 2016 European Championship campaign in which they bowed out in the Quarter Finals after cooly dispatching England was followed by their first ever World Cup appearance in 2018.
I've been wondering could Arctic neighbours Greenland use Iceland as a blue print to propel themselves onto the international football scene?
Idylic - A mountain vista in Greenland
The first major hurdle for Greenland to overcome is FIFA membership. At the moment Greenland is not a member of FIFA or UEFA. Greenland is an automonous territory within the kingdom of Denmark but this political status may not be a terminal flaw in its efforts to join Uefa. A number of non-states, including Scotland, Wales and the Faroe Islands – also a part of the Kingdom of Denmark – are in. So too is Gibraltar, which had to resort to legal action to be allowed to join after Spain, which claims control over the British territory, initially blocked its entry by successfully lobbying, in 2001, for the stricter membership requirement. Unlike Spain though the Danish FA have been very vocal in their support for Greenland to be granted entry to UEFA.
Another sticking point is the national stadium. The current Nuuk Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium in the Capital Nuuk. The stadium has a capacity for 2,000 fans and in 2016 a FIFA 2-star artificial turf was installed. The 2-star rating is the highest achievable rating for an artificial surface and is suitable for all UEFA competitions. There are plans for a new stadium. The Arktisk Stadion (Arctic Stadium) would seat several thousand spectators and be fully enclosed with heating. This would add weight to Greenland's membership application. A lack of funding has caused this project to be put on ice for the moment though.
Nuuk Stadium - Greenland
Approx Greenland Population: 56,000
Approx Iceland Population: 364,000
Although Greenland is a huge landmass (technically the largest island in the world) it's sparsley populated in comparison to Iceland.
Football is the most popular sport in Greenland with about 5,500 players. The Greenland Football Federation was started in 1971 and they have their office in Nuuk. In Greenland, football can usually be played outside from the end of May until the middle of September, with the south of Greenland able to play for longer than in the north. All the football grounds are sand pitches. Many towns have indoor halls and the football players play indoor football from October to about April. Greenland are building more indoor stadiums so the game can be played all year round and under FIFA requirements, this is similar to what Iceland have accomplished in recent history.
Whilst not exactly known for being a conveyor belt of footballing talent, Greenland can claim former Chelsea, Ajax and Birmingham star Jesper Grønkjær as one of it's own. Grønkjær was born in the Capital Nuuk but left for Denmark as a youngster, he joined Aalborg and opted to represent Denmark earning 80 caps over the course of his career.
It's unlikely that we'll see Greenland embarrassing Brazil in a World Cup anytime soon but could we see them slugging it out against Moldova on a new all weather stadium in Nuuk in the next 5 years? Could we be guiding Greenlandic teams to glory/misery in Football Manager soon? Well in these strange unprecedented times, you can't rule anything out ...
Fancy playing Football Manager 2020 in Greenland? Check out the link below.
I can't vouch for its quality so a long term save is at your own risk but let us know how it goes if you do decide to try it out