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Sports digest: 'Most hated man in Denmark' apologizes

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11:14 CEST+02:00
Sports digest is The Local's weekly round-up of sporting chances and unsportsmanlike behaviour, mainly on the Swedish side of the Öresund Bridge.

Football

The 29-year old Dane whose attack on the referee led to the abandonment of Saturday's showdown between Denmark and Sweden has now issued a public apology.

After a day spent drinking "15 to 20 beers", the supporter ran onto the pitch and landed a blow on the referee's neck just after Denmark's Christian Poulsen had been handed a red card for punching Swedish striker Marcus Rosenberg. Only the intervention of three Danish players prevented the fan from injuring the referee.

"I want to apologize. It was extremely stupid of me. I want to apologize to all of Denmark, Sweden and the referee for my inhuman behaviour," he told Aftonbladet.

The Dane was taken into custody immediately after the game but spent most of Saturday night in hospital after smashing his fist into a concrete wall at the police station.

"I was so disappointed and angry about my actions at Parken," he said.

Sweden is likely to be awarded all three points, as recommended by the referee, when governing body UEFA meets on Wednesday to discuss Saturday's incident.

Defeat leaves Denmark with only a very slim chance of qualifying for the European Championship. As the reality of the Danish team's predicament began to sink in, the 29-year-old was quickly dubbed "the most hated man in Denmark".

It is then perhaps somewhat fortuitous that he moved to Gothenburg some years back, where he now works as a customer service manager at an IT company.

As there were not deemed to be sufficient grounds for his detention, he has now made his way to a summer house in an attempt to get away from the media spotlight. Back on Swedish soil, he has a hard time explaining his actions.

"Many people want an explanation, which is understandable. But I hope I will be able to sleep in peace. My family have supported me. Unfortunately they have been the innocent victims of all this.

"They said they don't know me as the kind of person who would ruin an international. I am actually quite a cowardly person and I have never hit anyone before," he told Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidene.

A remarkable Danish comeback had left the match nicely poised at 3-3 before the supporter came on and stole the show.

The referee had however pointed to the penalty spot after Poulsen's moment of madness. Had the game resumed, Fredrik Ljungberg could have sealed a famous 4-3 victory for the Swedes.

Alternatively, a penalty save would have kept the Danes in the running for a place in next summer's tournament.

"One shouldn't mix sport and alcohol. I am living proof, since I wasn't able to handle them together. I suppose I'm not welcome at Parken any more and that's understandable," said the 29-year-old.

The damage to the 29-year-old's reputation may soon be matched by a massive hole in his bank account; the Danish Football Association is considering suing him for an estimated 20 million kronor ($2.8 million).

Full match report

Tennis

Sweden's Jonas Björkman became the oldest man for 35 years to reach the French Open fourth round when he defeated Spain's Oscar Hernandez in Paris on Saturday.

Björkman, 35, was the oldest player in the men's singles this year but he showed that age is no barrier to success when he came back from a set down to beat Hernandez 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-0, 6-1.

He will face 1998 champion Carlos Moya, the Spanish 23rd seed, who beat Argentinian qualifier Juan Pablo Brzezicki 6-1, 6-3, 7-5 for a place in the quarter-finals having reached this stage the hard way.

Björkman, playing Roland Garros for the 14th successive year, had to come back from two sets down in his first two matches here, only the fourth man to achieve such a feat.

"I have to work harder now that I'm 35 and not 25 because my speed is dropping and my recovery is not the same," said Björkman who last made the fourth round here way back in 1996.

"I'm also enjoying the game out there. I'm much more relaxed."

The fourth round clash on Monday will feature the two oldest players left. Moya is 30.

"Carlos is on his way back and playing great tennis again. Maybe he is also feeling a little more relaxed now," added Björkman.

Ice Hockey

The Ottawa Senators, led by Swedish captain Daniel Alfredsson, are trying to become the first Canadian team to claim the Stanley Cup since Montreal in 1993.

Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov scored one goal and assisted on another Saturday as the Senators defeated Anaheim 5-3 to claw their way back into the National Hockey League Stanley Cup finals.

Rallying three times from a one-goal deficit, the Senators moved within 2-1 in the best-of-seven championship series with game four in Ottawa on Monday and game five Wednesday at Anaheim.

"It was a character game today because we came from behind a few times, but came back with timely goals," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson.

Who would have thought that Daniel Alfredsson's star would have burned this bright and for this long into his National Hockey League career?

While Swedish scoring greats Mats Sundin and Peter Forsberg have been hit by injuries the past few seasons and appear to be on the downside of their National Hockey League careers, Alfredsson continues to excel at a high level.

The 34-year-old from Gothenburg is currently enjoying his best post-season ever and is seeking to become the first European to captain his team to a NHL championship.

"It feels great being part of something that we are doing now," Alfredsson said. "It is tough to describe. It is a feeling that I know personally I'm going to take with me forever."

Forsberg is considered the greatest player to ever come out of Sweden. This year injuries limited Forsberg's ice time and he finished with 13 goals and 55 points in 57 games.

Alfredsson, who is the only player to have played in all 95 Senators playoff games in franchise history, had 29 goals and 87 points in 77 games.

Throughout his 11-year professional career and when competing for the Swedish Olympic team, Alfredsson has played in the shadow of Forsberg, Sundin and all-star defenceman Nicklas Lidström. Alfredsson is arguably the most underrated player in the NHL.

But now he has a chance to raise his profile and achieve something that has eluded Sundin, but not Forsberg and Lidström, and that is win a Stanley Cup.

"We have been waiting for this and we are ready," said Alfredsson.

"We have had some disappointments in the playoffs. We haven't played to our potential but every year it is a new year.

"You always think that this is going to be your year."

Alfredsson is a rarity in the days of huge salaries and free agency because he has played his entire career with the Senators.

Since Lars-Erik Sjoberg became the first European captain in 1979 with the Winnipeg Jets, no European captain has made it to the Stanley Cup finals.

Alfredsson is also leading the NHL in game winning playoff goals with four.

He scored the biggest goal of his career in game five against Buffalo, getting the overtime winner that eliminated the Sabres and vaulted the Senators into their first Stanley Cup final in franchise history.

"He has gone through a lot of ups and downs and then to get the biggest goal in team history is very fitting," said teammate Chris Phillips.

Alfredsson hasn't been doing it alone this season. He makes up one third of the NHL's top scoring line. He and Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley all finished among the league's top 20 regular season scorers.

In the post-season Heatley (21 points) and Spezza (20 points) rank one and two in league scoring while Alfredsson is fourth in points with 17.

Paul O'Mahony/AFP

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