FOREIGN VIEW: We look at the reaction from Norway after an explosive interview from star forward Caroline Graham Hansen got the nation talking following a rough start to their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign.
Graham Hansen gave an explosive interview after the Barcelona sensation was dropped for Norway’s 0-0 draw with Switzerland in Hamilton on Tuesday, having started the country’s opening-match defeat to co-hosts New Zealand.
A two-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner, the 28-year-old earned her 100th international cap against the Swiss but it was as a 57th-minute minute substitute as Norway were left with one point heading into their final Group A fixture.
“It’s tough, I don’t know what I can say,” Graham Hansen told ViaPlay post-match. “There’s not much I can say, I feel like I’m standing here with my hands tied.
“I feel I have been stepped on for a whole year — everyone says all the time that we have to stand together as a team and as a nation, but I feel I’ve been on the receiving end (of a raw deal).”
Graham Hansen took a break from the national team for health reasons in August, shortly after Hege Riise was appointed as Norway’s new head coach, having been treated for a cardiac problem in November 2021.
“Nothing comes for free in life, but I thought I had earned a certain amount of respect, but maybe that wasn’t the case,” Graham Hansen also told TV2, with Norway bottom of the group heading into their meeting against Philippines.
Her comments has a whole country talking, with leading newspaper Verdens Gang (VG) suggesting she could be sent home, as well as NRK commentator Carl-Erik Torp.
In a VG column, Norwegian journalist Trond Johannessen wrote: “Is this such a harsh criticism that Graham Hansen can be sent home from the WC? It may be unlikely, but it is not just on the training field that a big job needs to be done in the next few days.
“Hege Riise was clearly uncomfortable when she was confronted with the violent outburst. The decision to scrap her world star in a fateful match in the World Cup was shocking and in a way one of the bravest decisions any Norwegian coach has ever made.
“Seen from the outside, it is impossible to understand how Norway can line up without Graham Hansen, seen from the inside, there may be reasons we are not aware of. Here, it smells of internal unrest for several days.”
As for Torp, who is a former Eliteserien midfielder, he said: “I’ve seen Caroline in situations like this before where she obviously has a lot of emotions in her and then she can struggle to be the most reasonable. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw the interview.
“I struggle to see how they are going to get this cleaned up and put it behind them. It will be part of the championship anyway. Here, the national team management must come to the pitch and address this and say something about the situation. Don’t just brush it under the rug. As they have tended to do with all questions. I expect them to be concrete.”
“The WC’s biggest drama queens must stop arguing, and rather think about what they even have to do in a WC,” Aftonbladet‘s Swedish commentator Johanna Franden wrote.
Danish Amalie Bremer – radio and podcast host of Kvindefodbollpodcasten – added: “This is seriously completely wild. What a meltdown in Norway’s World Cup camp.”
NRK’s expert and current forward Elise Thorsnes, who previously played for Canberra United in the Liberty A-League, said: “It was a bit like I feared, that there must be something more behind it than a slightly sore throat. Caro with her qualities is someone who should start for Norway in any match. We got confirmation that there is more behind it.”
In the aftermath of Graham Hansen’s post-game comments, Riise – who won the World Cup with Norway as a player in 1995 – defending her selection.
“Caroline is entitled to be frustrated and to express an opinion, but since I arrived in this position I have always said the team is the most important thing,” Riise said.
“All players want to start matches. I reached the decision in the best interest of my team and I defend my decision today.”