The coach of Norway’s national women’s football team fended off calls for his resignation during the weekend, after the Norwegians were knocked out of the European Championships (Euro2022). Some of the players themselves literally felt sick after losing 1-0 to Austria and having to travel home in shame.
“It’s painful, I have a bad feeling in my stomach and feel nauseous,” team captain Maren Mjelde told state broadcaster NRK. “It’s hard to stand here when we knew we either had to win or go home.” The match was another disappointment for Norway, and neither of the team’s biggest stars (Ada Hegerberg nor Caroline Graham Hansen) were able to really get involved in it.
“I’m extremely disappointed, incredibly disappointed,” Hegerberg said immediately after the match. “I nearly don’t have words, to be honest. I’m incredibly sorry on behalf of the team, for everyone who met up, followed us and made the trip (to England, which is hosting the European Championships this year). There’s nothing more to say.” Hansen, meanwhile, defended head coach Martin Sjögren once again, telling NRK (which carried the match live on national TV Friday night) that “I think it’s very wrong to evaluate what he’s gotten out of me by only referring to the two last matches. Then they haven’t followed us for the last five years.”
Sports commentators were nonetheless merciless, blaming Sjögren and the rest of his management team for the loss. NRK’s own commentator, Carl-Erik Torp called it a “catastrophe” that had been warned in advance. Sjögren himself responded that he had no intention of quitting and simply had “no good answer” for what happened on the field: “I’m not the one to give up, but I understand the discussion.” Hansen, who plays professionally for Barcelona, wasn’t giving up either: “I hope we manage to look beyond this. We have to examine what worked and what didn’t in these championships so we can move on, to the World Cup qualifiers and the next championships.”