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Culture

Building bridges

It’s more than just the Øresund Bridge that connects Sweden to Denmark, as Malmö’s Danish captain Anders Christiansen explains

WORDS Chris burke | INTERVIEW Per Vinkel

Back in 2016, the nations of Denmark and Sweden briefly went to war. Well, a Twitter war. The feisty affair got personal too, with the official accounts of the Scandinavian neighbours covering everything from moose populations to alcohol intake as they traded bitesize insults.

Now, we can all agree that Twitter skirmishes are healthier than the real thing, particularly between two countries who went to actual war 11 times between 1521 and 1814, but that episode proved the Danish-Swedish rivalry still simmers away. Not that Anders Christiansen would have needed reminding – after all, 2016 was the year the Danish midfielder first joined Swedish powerhouse side Malmö, just a 30km drive from his Copenhagen roots.

Great Dane: the Malmö captain Anders Christiansen

“I don’t think the Swedes completely accept the Danes, nor do I think the Danes completely accept the Swedes,” explains the Malmö captain, now in his second spell at the club. “We don’t exactly have a loving relationship.” Maybe not, but they do have an increasingly close connection thanks to the 2000 opening of the Øresund Bridge (or Öresund Bridge in Swedish), made famous by Nordic noir TV series The Bridge.

Football provides another connection with Christiansen playing his part as one of a handful of Danes who have helped the Himmelsblått (Sky Blues) return to the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015/16. His fellow ambassadors include the experienced trio of Lasse Nielsen, Sören Rieks and the currently injured Jonas Knudsen, along with coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the  former Denmark forward who became Allsvenskan manager of the year after leading Malmö to a 21st Swedish title in 2020.

Back in 2016, the nations of Denmark and Sweden briefly went to war. Well, a Twitter war. The feisty affair got personal too, with the official accounts of the Scandinavian neighbours covering everything from moose populations to alcohol intake as they traded bitesize insults.

Now, we can all agree that Twitter skirmishes are healthier than the real thing, particularly between two countries who went to actual war 11 times between 1521 and 1814, but that episode proved the Danish-Swedish rivalry still simmers away. Not that Anders Christiansen would have needed reminding – after all, 2016 was the year the Danish midfielder first joined Swedish powerhouse side Malmö, just a 30km drive from his Copenhagen roots.

Great Dane: the Malmö captain Anders Christiansen

“I don’t think the Swedes completely accept the Danes, nor do I think the Danes completely accept the Swedes,” explains the Malmö captain, now in his second spell at the club. “We don’t exactly have a loving relationship.” Maybe not, but they do have an increasingly close connection thanks to the 2000 opening of the Øresund Bridge (or Öresund Bridge in Swedish), made famous by Nordic noir TV series The Bridge.

Football provides another connection with Christiansen playing his part as one of a handful of Danes who have helped the Himmelsblått (Sky Blues) return to the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015/16. His fellow ambassadors include the experienced trio of Lasse Nielsen, Sören Rieks and the currently injured Jonas Knudsen, along with coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the  former Denmark forward who became Allsvenskan manager of the year after leading Malmö to a 21st Swedish title in 2020.

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MFF are the sole Nordic club to have graced a European Cup final – in 1979 when they were denied the trophy by Nottingham Forest – and Christiansen affirms that they wield serious weight on the Scandinavian scene. “Here in Malmö, football means a lot and, to make a massive generalisation, it also means more than it does to the average citizen in Denmark,” he says. He explains how “from day one” he could see “small boys cycling from school to the club with their Malmö FF school bag and cycle helmet. People are proud of attending football matches here, proud of wearing jackets and hats from the club shop. They buy [Malmö] baby clothes. It’s a proper football town and I’m happy to be part of it.”

In truth, the 31-year-old has developed a serious soft spot for the city and its wider region, where he returned after a brief, unhappy stint with Gent in 2018. “It’s difficult as a Dane to admit to having become Swedish, but Malmö and Skåne [Sweden’s southernmost province] will always have a special importance as me and my girlfriend have two kids born and raised in Malmö. Born in the hospital, integrated in kindergarten and speaking some Swedish words. I’m happy about that and also feel more and more integrated.”

“IT'S DIFFICULT AS A DANE TO ADMIT TO HAVING BECOME SWEDISH, BUT MALMÖ WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL IMPORTANCE."


Neither nation may be clamouring for a revival of their medieval Kalmar Union but Christiansen has been contacted by Swedes living in Copenhagen who “have season tickets and are going to our matches” and, for his part, sees Malmö as “the right match for me”. He even featured in both games as MFF faced Copenhagen in the 2019/20 Europa League, helping them win 1-0 in his hometown. And if his “heart is still with Copenhagen” as a place to live, the Malmö skipper does a decent impression of a tourism promoter for Sweden’s third-largest city, starting by name-checking the Asian restaurant Lemongrass, “where the team goes to eat and socialise”.

He continues: “There are many different ethnicities here, which means many different lifestyles. It’s a cosy little city. Me personally, I’m from Greater Copenhagen, which it’s difficult to compare it to. But there are many cosy areas and lovely parks. The city is located by the water with the bridge to Denmark, and the beach is nearby in the summer when the weather is nice.”

Cosy? Lovely? Clearly that’s not a message that will stir Nordic passions on Twitter, but Christiansen and his fellow Danes are obviously thriving on the other side of the bridge. Likewise, Malmö have profited from their presence to re-emerge on the Champions League stage. And if conversations ever get heated, they can always gang up on Norway.

Back in 2016, the nations of Denmark and Sweden briefly went to war. Well, a Twitter war. The feisty affair got personal too, with the official accounts of the Scandinavian neighbours covering everything from moose populations to alcohol intake as they traded bitesize insults.

Now, we can all agree that Twitter skirmishes are healthier than the real thing, particularly between two countries who went to actual war 11 times between 1521 and 1814, but that episode proved the Danish-Swedish rivalry still simmers away. Not that Anders Christiansen would have needed reminding – after all, 2016 was the year the Danish midfielder first joined Swedish powerhouse side Malmö, just a 30km drive from his Copenhagen roots.

Great Dane: the Malmö captain Anders Christiansen

“I don’t think the Swedes completely accept the Danes, nor do I think the Danes completely accept the Swedes,” explains the Malmö captain, now in his second spell at the club. “We don’t exactly have a loving relationship.” Maybe not, but they do have an increasingly close connection thanks to the 2000 opening of the Øresund Bridge (or Öresund Bridge in Swedish), made famous by Nordic noir TV series The Bridge.

Football provides another connection with Christiansen playing his part as one of a handful of Danes who have helped the Himmelsblått (Sky Blues) return to the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015/16. His fellow ambassadors include the experienced trio of Lasse Nielsen, Sören Rieks and the currently injured Jonas Knudsen, along with coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the  former Denmark forward who became Allsvenskan manager of the year after leading Malmö to a 21st Swedish title in 2020.

Building bridges
Culture

Building bridges

It’s more than just the Øresund Bridge that connects Sweden to Denmark, as Malmö’s Danish captain Anders Christiansen explains

WORDS Chris burke | INTERVIEW Per Vinkel

Back in 2016, the nations of Denmark and Sweden briefly went to war. Well, a Twitter war. The feisty affair got personal too, with the official accounts of the Scandinavian neighbours covering everything from moose populations to alcohol intake as they traded bitesize insults.

Now, we can all agree that Twitter skirmishes are healthier than the real thing, particularly between two countries who went to actual war 11 times between 1521 and 1814, but that episode proved the Danish-Swedish rivalry still simmers away. Not that Anders Christiansen would have needed reminding – after all, 2016 was the year the Danish midfielder first joined Swedish powerhouse side Malmö, just a 30km drive from his Copenhagen roots.

Great Dane: the Malmö captain Anders Christiansen

“I don’t think the Swedes completely accept the Danes, nor do I think the Danes completely accept the Swedes,” explains the Malmö captain, now in his second spell at the club. “We don’t exactly have a loving relationship.” Maybe not, but they do have an increasingly close connection thanks to the 2000 opening of the Øresund Bridge (or Öresund Bridge in Swedish), made famous by Nordic noir TV series The Bridge.

Football provides another connection with Christiansen playing his part as one of a handful of Danes who have helped the Himmelsblått (Sky Blues) return to the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015/16. His fellow ambassadors include the experienced trio of Lasse Nielsen, Sören Rieks and the currently injured Jonas Knudsen, along with coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the  former Denmark forward who became Allsvenskan manager of the year after leading Malmö to a 21st Swedish title in 2020.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Back in 2016, the nations of Denmark and Sweden briefly went to war. Well, a Twitter war. The feisty affair got personal too, with the official accounts of the Scandinavian neighbours covering everything from moose populations to alcohol intake as they traded bitesize insults.

Now, we can all agree that Twitter skirmishes are healthier than the real thing, particularly between two countries who went to actual war 11 times between 1521 and 1814, but that episode proved the Danish-Swedish rivalry still simmers away. Not that Anders Christiansen would have needed reminding – after all, 2016 was the year the Danish midfielder first joined Swedish powerhouse side Malmö, just a 30km drive from his Copenhagen roots.

Great Dane: the Malmö captain Anders Christiansen

“I don’t think the Swedes completely accept the Danes, nor do I think the Danes completely accept the Swedes,” explains the Malmö captain, now in his second spell at the club. “We don’t exactly have a loving relationship.” Maybe not, but they do have an increasingly close connection thanks to the 2000 opening of the Øresund Bridge (or Öresund Bridge in Swedish), made famous by Nordic noir TV series The Bridge.

Football provides another connection with Christiansen playing his part as one of a handful of Danes who have helped the Himmelsblått (Sky Blues) return to the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015/16. His fellow ambassadors include the experienced trio of Lasse Nielsen, Sören Rieks and the currently injured Jonas Knudsen, along with coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the  former Denmark forward who became Allsvenskan manager of the year after leading Malmö to a 21st Swedish title in 2020.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

MFF are the sole Nordic club to have graced a European Cup final – in 1979 when they were denied the trophy by Nottingham Forest – and Christiansen affirms that they wield serious weight on the Scandinavian scene. “Here in Malmö, football means a lot and, to make a massive generalisation, it also means more than it does to the average citizen in Denmark,” he says. He explains how “from day one” he could see “small boys cycling from school to the club with their Malmö FF school bag and cycle helmet. People are proud of attending football matches here, proud of wearing jackets and hats from the club shop. They buy [Malmö] baby clothes. It’s a proper football town and I’m happy to be part of it.”

In truth, the 31-year-old has developed a serious soft spot for the city and its wider region, where he returned after a brief, unhappy stint with Gent in 2018. “It’s difficult as a Dane to admit to having become Swedish, but Malmö and Skåne [Sweden’s southernmost province] will always have a special importance as me and my girlfriend have two kids born and raised in Malmö. Born in the hospital, integrated in kindergarten and speaking some Swedish words. I’m happy about that and also feel more and more integrated.”

“IT'S DIFFICULT AS A DANE TO ADMIT TO HAVING BECOME SWEDISH, BUT MALMÖ WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL IMPORTANCE."


Neither nation may be clamouring for a revival of their medieval Kalmar Union but Christiansen has been contacted by Swedes living in Copenhagen who “have season tickets and are going to our matches” and, for his part, sees Malmö as “the right match for me”. He even featured in both games as MFF faced Copenhagen in the 2019/20 Europa League, helping them win 1-0 in his hometown. And if his “heart is still with Copenhagen” as a place to live, the Malmö skipper does a decent impression of a tourism promoter for Sweden’s third-largest city, starting by name-checking the Asian restaurant Lemongrass, “where the team goes to eat and socialise”.

He continues: “There are many different ethnicities here, which means many different lifestyles. It’s a cosy little city. Me personally, I’m from Greater Copenhagen, which it’s difficult to compare it to. But there are many cosy areas and lovely parks. The city is located by the water with the bridge to Denmark, and the beach is nearby in the summer when the weather is nice.”

Cosy? Lovely? Clearly that’s not a message that will stir Nordic passions on Twitter, but Christiansen and his fellow Danes are obviously thriving on the other side of the bridge. Likewise, Malmö have profited from their presence to re-emerge on the Champions League stage. And if conversations ever get heated, they can always gang up on Norway.

Back in 2016, the nations of Denmark and Sweden briefly went to war. Well, a Twitter war. The feisty affair got personal too, with the official accounts of the Scandinavian neighbours covering everything from moose populations to alcohol intake as they traded bitesize insults.

Now, we can all agree that Twitter skirmishes are healthier than the real thing, particularly between two countries who went to actual war 11 times between 1521 and 1814, but that episode proved the Danish-Swedish rivalry still simmers away. Not that Anders Christiansen would have needed reminding – after all, 2016 was the year the Danish midfielder first joined Swedish powerhouse side Malmö, just a 30km drive from his Copenhagen roots.

Great Dane: the Malmö captain Anders Christiansen

“I don’t think the Swedes completely accept the Danes, nor do I think the Danes completely accept the Swedes,” explains the Malmö captain, now in his second spell at the club. “We don’t exactly have a loving relationship.” Maybe not, but they do have an increasingly close connection thanks to the 2000 opening of the Øresund Bridge (or Öresund Bridge in Swedish), made famous by Nordic noir TV series The Bridge.

Football provides another connection with Christiansen playing his part as one of a handful of Danes who have helped the Himmelsblått (Sky Blues) return to the Champions League this season for the first time since 2015/16. His fellow ambassadors include the experienced trio of Lasse Nielsen, Sören Rieks and the currently injured Jonas Knudsen, along with coach Jon Dahl Tomasson, the  former Denmark forward who became Allsvenskan manager of the year after leading Malmö to a 21st Swedish title in 2020.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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