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Denmark may forfeit games amid dispute with players over sponsorships - sources

Denmark's Christian Eriksen during the World Cup game against Croatia.
Tottenham's Christian Eriksen is among the players who will not feature for Denmark this week.

The Danish Football Association (DBU) must find 23 new players for games against Slovakia and Wales later this week after informing clubs that all players in the original squad are no longer required amid a dispute over commercial rights, sources have told ESPN FC.

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Christian Eriksen, Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen and Leicester City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel are among those who have been released from international commitments after sources said the DBU emailed clubs on Monday to say they will not be in the squad.

The DBU's decision comes after negotiations with the Danish Football Players' Association broke down regarding the rights of players to make individual sponsorship agreements with companies competing with national team sponsors.

The players refused to sign a new deal on Sunday, missing a deadline imposed by the DBU, which wasted no time in retracting their requests to clubs to release them for the friendly against Slovakia on Wednesday and the UEFA Nations League opener against Wales on Sunday.

If a replacement squad cannot be found in time and the games are cancelled or forfeited, Denmark face a ban from European competition that could leave them exiled from Euro 2020.

UEFA warned the DBU of the potential sanction last year after Denmark's women's team boycotted a World Cup qualifier during a dispute over employment conditions.

Players from the Danish Superliga and lower domestic leagues could be called up to fill the Denmark squad, but complicating matters for the DBU is the fact that many are also members of the players' union and therefore may be unwilling to break ranks by accepting the invitation.

The players' association offered to extend the previous agreement until October to give more time for negotiations after the international break, but the DBU have interpreted their stance as the players deciding not to play for Denmark and the phrasing of the emails sent to clubs on Monday reflects that belief.

Talks over extending the existing commercial deal began in January, but the two parties remain far from an agreement and hostility has grown. Sources told ESPN FC that the players' union remains committed to working "day and night" to find a resolution to the dispute, but the DBU is refusing to negotiate.

Denmark coach Age Hareide will not be in charge of the team for the games after the DBU said it does not want him managing a team he did not pick.

The DBU and the players' union declined to comment when contacted by ESPN FC.

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