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MA57 Consulting

Life is not a sport for spectators


I have always been involved and committed in sport – as an athlete, coach, volunteer, researcher, communicator and spectator. My educational background is a master degree in Political Science and Physical Education and I have five chapters of my work life with different perspectives of sport. I have extensive theoretical knowledge and many practical experiences about the value of sport. My knowledge and experiences are obtained from youth education, higher education and research institutions, and the daily life of Danish and international elite sport.

For more than three decades I have worked with top athletes, coaches, high performance managers and researchers. In addition, I have worked with many municipalities, clubs, federations and organizations as well as some of Denmark's largest private companies. Finally, I have many experiences as chairman and member of boards, voluntary organizations, federations, associations and public institutions. Today I have a number of collaborators whom I appreciate and which I solve different types of tasks for and along with. Because - Life is not a sport for spectators!

Blogs

Which Nordic countries have the greatest chances of sporting success at the 2021 Olympics?

July 6, 2020

In late March 2020, after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan’s government decided to postpone the XXXII Olympic Games, which should have been held during the period July 24 – August 9, 2020. And, probably until the summer of 2021, there will continue to be great uncertainty about the OG due to the risk of virus infection among athletes, coaches, leaders and spectators from all over the world. For everybody, it is completely unfamiliar to postpone the OG, both sporting, health and financial. At present, approx. 60% of the Olympic qualifying places are distributed, either personally or as national places. In total, 11,090 athletes from more than 200 nations will compete for 339 medal sets in 33 different sports next summer in Tokyo. But which Nordic countries have the greatest chance of sporting success at the 2021 Olympics: Which athletes and teams are qualified and who are among the medal candidates at this time?

Today Sweden has secured qualification for the Olympics 2021 in 13 sports: Athletics, table tennis, wrestling, archery, cycling (road), football (women), gymnastics (artistic), judo, kayaking, equestrian (dressage, eventing and jumping), sailing, shooting and swimming. In addition, Sweden also has really good chances of qualifying in handball, both women’s team and men’s team, golf and taekwondo in the upcoming qualifying tournaments or by the world rankings. By contrast, there is no indication that Sweden – or any of the other Nordic countries – qualify for the new sports on the Olympic program: Baseball (men), softball (women), climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing. Sweden has always had a tradition of qualifying in many sports, but in my point of wiew Sweden gets very difficult to qualify in 22 different sports, as was the case at the 2016 Olympics, where Sweden won 11 medals in 7 different sports. Swedish athletes and teams, however, have in recent years achieved very good World Championship results in Olympic disciplines. Sweden won no less than 16 WC medals in Olympic disciplines in 2019 and the top 8 ranking points at the WC have also been larger in recent years than in the years before the 2016 Olympics. Sweden is thus strongly ahead of the 2021 Olympics with the potential medalist in athletics at the only 21-year-old pole vault Armand Duplantis, who won the WC silver medal in 2019 and a few months ago set a new world record with a jump of 6.18 meters. Additionally, discus thrower Daniel Ståhl, who won the WC silver medal in 2017 and became world champion in 2019, is a strong medalist candidate in Tokyo. However, in my opinion, the biggest medal favorite is 26-year-old swimming star Sarah Sjöström, who won a total of 3 medals in the 2016 Olympic Games and no less than 4 medals in Olympic disciplines at the 2019 World Championships. Additionally, in sports, such as wrestling, golf, equestrian, sailing, shooting and soccer for women, Swedish athletes and team has realistic medal chances at the 2021 Olympics.

Denmark was the best performing Nordic nation at the 2016 Olympics, with a total of 15 medals in 9 different sports – one of the historically best Danish Olympic results ever. Today, Denmark has secured qualification for the Olympics 2021 in 12 sports: Athletics, table tennis, wrestling, archery, cycling (road and track), handball (men), kayaking, equestrian (dressage, jumping and eventing), rowing, sailing, shooting and swimming. In addition, Denmark has very good chances of qualifying athletes in badminton and golf by world rankings, so that the number of sports with Danish participation at the Olympics 2021 comes very close to 15, which was the number at the 2016 Olympics. Danish athletes and teams showed good World Championship results in 2019 in Olympic disciplines, with a total of 12 medals and no less than three of gold: Mads Pedersen in cycling (road), Anne-Marie Rindom in sailing (Laser Radial) and handball for men. Both Rindom, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics and the men’s team handball, who are defending Olympic champions, are, in my opinion, potential medalists in Tokyo. However, the biggest Danish medal favorites are the 4 km team pursuit in track cycling, which in February 2020 became world champions and at the same time set a new world record with time 3 minutes and 46.203 seconds. Additionally, Lasse Norman Hansen and Michael Mørkøv in madison have shown world class over the past few years and the two experienced riders are a really good bid for Danish Olympic gold in Tokyo. In addition to track cycling, sailing and handball, badminton with Viktor Axelsen and Anders Antonsen in men’s singles as well as kayaking with Emma Åstrand Jørgensen in the K1 200 must be awarded realistic medal chances at the Olympics 2021. In contrast to Sweden, Denmark has achieved significantly fewer top 8 placement points at the World Championships in recent years. On that background, it will be more than difficult to get near by 15 medals at the 2021 Olympics.

Norway has achieved many good World Championship results, both in terms of WC medals and top 8 placement points, in recent years. And all indications are that Norway will win significantly more medals and get far more top 8 ranking points at the Olympics 2021 than at both the 2012 Olympics and the 2016 Olympics, both of which were very disappointing for one of the world’s best sports nations. Today, Norway has secured qualification for the Olympics 2021 in 8 sports: Athletics, cycling (road and track), gymnastics (artistic), equestrian (dressage and jumping), rowing, sailing, shooting and swimming. In addition, Norway has very good chances of qualifying for the Olympic handball tournament, both for women and men. And in my opinion, both handball teams must also be considered realistic potential medalists. In particular, Norway’s women’s handball team has achieved impressive results at the past three Olympic Games with two gold medals and one bronze medal. Among the biggest medal candidates should also be the swimmer Henrik Christiansen, who won the WC silver medal at the 800 free style in 2019 and the single sculler Kjetil Borch, who won the World Championship in 2018 and the WC bronze medal in 2019. Among Borch’s competitors for the Olympic medals is the ferry Sverri Nielsen, which has shown impressive progress in the past year.

Finland, unlike Norway, has won very few World Championship medals and achieved few top 8 placement points in recent years. Finnish athletes or teams do not hold any World Championship medals in Olympic disciplines in 2019, and many suggest that Finland may have difficulty in improving the nation’s worst summer Olympics ever, the Rio 2016 Olympics where it became only a single bronze medal. Today, Finland has only secured qualification for the Olympics 2021 in 6 sports: Athletics, cycling (road), equestrian (dressage), sailing, shooting and swimming. In addition, Finland has good chances to qualify athletes in martial arts such as boxing, wrestling, taekwondo and judo as well as weightlifting and golf. However, I do not think that Finland comes close to representation in 16 sports, as was the case in Rio. In my opinion, the highest medal chances among Finnish athletes is the wrestler Petra Olli, who has previously won the World Championship and the sailor Tuula Tenkanen in Laser Radial.

Iceland has won a single Olympic medal over the years, namely the silver in the men’s handball tournament at the 2008 Olympics. At present, Iceland has only qualified swimmer Anton Sveinn McKee (200 m breaststroke), but hopefully obtain qualification in one or two sports more over the next 11 months.

Of course, much can happen over the coming year. Some athletes and teams can make great progress, while others may find it difficult to maintain their current level – or be “overtaken” by competitors from other nations. Overall, however, there is reason for optimism for the Nordic nations – not least Sweden and Norway – while Denmark, Finland and Iceland may find it difficult to achieve results as at the 2016 Olympics.

You can find more information about each country’s results and Olympic qualifications on the following websites:

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You’ll Never Walk Alone

June 26, 2020

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone

On next Sunday, when Liverpool Football Club hosts Aston Villa from Birmingham in the Premier League, the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” will once again sound from the public-address system at Anfield – Liverpool FC’s legendary home ground since the club’s founding in 1892. Unfortunately without the spectators at “The Kop” and the other stands, but for all the club’s millions of supporters – in Liverpool and across the globe – the song and emotion this evening will be very special. The supporters can celebrate Liverpool FC’s first national championship in 30 years. A club that has endured triumphs and tragedies of unimaginable dimensions over the past decades.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” is first of all known as the world’s most famous football song. The lyrics make it rattle down the spine, and when the song sounds at Anfield in Liverpool, Celtic Park in Glasgow or Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, one must humbly acknowledge that however emotional and generous football can be. The song’s reach and fixpoint through the generations for millions of football fans is really surprising. The story of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” began back in 1945, when it was authored by the legendary duo Rodgers & Hammerstein for the musical “Carousel”. The musical is a very sad story of a father being sent down from heaven to seek forgiveness for some of the mistakes he made during his life on earth. “You’ll Never Walk Alone” as the closing number in the musical, where the father is allowed to return to heaven after reconciling and attending the daughter’s high-school graduation. This closing number has meant that the song has often been – and continues to be – sung in connection with end-of-term celebrations in the United States.

The port city of Liverpool has always been closely linked culturally and socially to the United States, and the young singer Gerry Marsden had seen in the cinema in the early 1960s the American filmization of the musical “Carousel”. He was not so impressed with the film itself, but he could not shake off “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. Gerry Marsden was singer in the Liverpool group “Gerry and The Pacemakers”, and in the fall of 1963 Gerry Marsden was ready to record the song on single. Gerry Marsden had seen, and not least heard right: A classic was born, but no one had ever dreamed what influence the song would have over time. Back in the fall of 1963, Liverpool FC, with the legendary Bill Shankly as manager, had just begun its ascendancy to the best football clubs in England. The club was the season before returned to the best division – after 8 seasons in the second best. The many dock workers from Liverpool’s dock areas had also just won the right to be released every Saturday afternoon, and “Merseybeat” with bands like “The Beatles” and “Gerry and The Pacemakers” really put Liverpool on the map. And on the world’s most famous stand – The Kop – 28,000 “scousers” stood every other Saturday and romped on the hit parade of time, which was played over the public-address system before every home game. When the tour came to “You’ll Never Walk Alone” the scousers” continued to sing, even after the speakers were turned off. And even as the song disappeared from the public-address system, the fans at “The Kop” continued to sing it. After that, it wasn’t long before it became a solid repertoire for all LFC’s matches. An indispensable ritual just before the players run on the field. Later that season (1963-64), the club won its first national championship in 17 years, which was also the first championship with Bill Shankly as manager. And “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has since accompanied the club in good times and bad.

Among Liverpool FC’s biggest triumphs are 6 titles in the most prestigious European Champions League, 3 UEFA Cup titles, 19 national championships and 7 FA Cup titles, making Liverpool FC one of the most winning English clubs ever, and the football club in the UK that has won the most European titles.

But the song has seemed the strongest and most comforting in the club’s black moments – not least in connection with the tragedies at Heysel and Hillsborough. The tragedy at Heysel Stadium in Brussels took place during the final of the European Champions Final between Liverpool FC and Juventus FC in May 1985. An hour before the match, it was revealed that the fences were set up to maintain a so-called neutral area in the stands between Liverpool and Juventus supporters were far too flimsy. The shutdowns gave way and chaos ensued among Juventus’ supporters due to pressure from Liverpool’s supporters. As a result, all fans gathered in the one grandstand, which crashed, killing 39 people. The game was finished despite protests from the teams’ managers, and it ended with a 1-0 win for Juventus. Subsequently, 14 Liverpool supporters were sentenced to imprisonment for up to 3 years for negligent manslaughter.

Only four years later, Liverpool FC and its supporters experienced yet another tragedy at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, with 96 fans perishing and more than 400 fans injured. The accident happened in a match where “The Reds” met Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup semi-finals. More than 25,000 Liverpool supporters had traveled to Sheffield and shortly after the start of the match, they became 96 supporters – including children of 6-8 years – mast to death. Both immediately after the match and right up until a few years ago there have been countless investigations and explanations of the causes of the tragedy. Just 4 years ago – and a quarter of a century after the Hillsborough Stadium tragedy – a jury set up by the British government announced that the 96 LFC supporters perished as a result of a criminal offense. The police, who were present during the match, were thus convicted of negligent manslaughter. In addition, the organizers of the match were criticized for not controlling the conduct of the match, including failing to postpone the start of the match due to the massive crowd influx. And finally, the rescuers were criticized for not realizing the scale of the disaster in time. In doing so, Liverpool supporters were resurrected for the accusations that had been directed at them over the years for awareness of the tragedy.

“You’ll Never Walk Alone” is also sung elsewhere than on Anfield and it has an understandable global appeal. But regardless of the fact, the song will always be closely associated with Liverpool Football Club. The relationship to the song has been strengthened after the Hillsborough tragedy, and for Liverpool fans, “You’ll Never Walk Alone” has become the epitome of what football and life are all about: We stand together – in joy and sorrow.

You can find more information about Liverpool Football Club on the website: https://www.liverpoolfc.com

The following books about Liverpool Football Club are recommended:

Hughes, Simon: The Red Journey. An Oral History of Liverpool Football Club (de Coubertin Books, 2017).

Platt, Mark: Liverpool Football Club. Champions of Europe. (Grange Communication Ltd., 2019).

 

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The battle for the Danish Championship: FCK vs. FCM …. also for the coming years

May 13, 2020

Next week, the Danish Super League in football resumes after almost 3 months of break due to corunavirus. Unfortunately without spectators at the stadium – but better late than never and better with second best solution than no solution. However, the best thing about playing the remaining two rounds of the basic tournement, the medal playoff and relegation tournement, is that league clubs now have the opportunity to receive the remaining 2/3 of the annual TV revenue – an amount of more than DKK 275 million, which is the existential revenue base for virtually all the super league clubs. The remaining matches will also answer three important questions: Who wins the Danish Championship, who qualifies for the medal playoffs and who will be the three relegators?

Analyzes from both international and Danish football over the past decades have shown that there is a clear correlation between players’ wages and sporting results. The Danish Institute for Sport Studies has shown that staffing costs of super league clubs can explain more than 4/5 of sporting results since the turn of the millennium. In conclusion, the clubs that, over time, can maintain the highest salary budget for players, coaches, healthcare staff and administration, just wins the most. However, it is far from all super league clubs that have been equally skilled and effective in managing their financial resources. Some clubs, such as FC Nordsjælland, FC Midtjylland and Hobro IK, have been sporting significantly performing, while other clubs such as Brøndby IF, OB, AGF and AaB have underperformed over the past five seasons.

There are currently only two candidates for the Danish Championship 2019-2020: FC Midtjylland and FC Copenhagen. Over the past 20 seasons, FCK has been absolutely superb in Danish club football with a total of 12 Danish Championships and only one season (2017-2018) has the club not won medals. FCK is also the only Danish club with success in international football with repeated participation in both Champion League and Europa League group tournements since the turn of the millennium. It is TV revenue from these tournaments and not least PARKEN Sport & Entertainment A/S’ “side business” in the form of the holiday centers “Lalandia”, which has created financial resources for player purchases – and thus also labor costs – which is a nice piece over the nearest competitors. However, based on the financial resources available to the club’s sporting management, FCK’s achievements in the Super League over the past 5 years have not been impressed – rather, on the contrary. It has turned into 3 Danish Championships , but winning the FCM this year’s championship, which in my opinion is most likely, FCK has actually underperformed in the Danish Super League in relation to the club’s financial resources. By contrast, FCM has outperformed the Super League since its incumbent Matthew Benham, who also owns the English Championship club Brentford, in 2014 acquired the majority of FCM’s shares in the event of a looming bankruptcy. The “Wolves from the Heath” won the year after the club’s first championship, which was recovered in the 2017-2018 season. And today, in my opinion, the club is also a big favorite to win the club’s third championship and thus the fifth medal in just 6 seasons. In addition, the club has also outperformed the transfer market with the sale of players such as Pione Sisto, Aleksander Sørloth and Paul Onuachu. Talent development at the club’s academy has throughout the history of FCM been one of the club’s core services. And this with great success, as the academy has developed players such as Simon Kjær, Winston Reid and Erik Sviatchenko.

FC Nordsjælland has also been extremely skilled at developing talents through the Super League for sale to foreign clubs. In 2015, the club was acquired by an investor group – “The Pathway Group Limited” – including Tom Vernon, who had previously started in the football academy “Right to Dream” in Ghana. The purpose of the collaboration is for FCN to be self-sufficient with players from FCN’s local community clubs and, not least, young players from Africa who will use the Super League as a springboard for a career in the major European leagues. This has been very successful, as FCN has just been awarded top marks – the “highest international class” in Danish Football Association’s licensing system. Like the FCM, the club has made a lot of money in recent years – more than 250 million DKK – on transfer income, including on players like Emre Mor, Mathias Jensen, Andreas Skov Olsen and Mikkel Damsgaard. Transfer income in both FCN and FCM has also “offset” significant operating deficits in the two club’s accounts. At the same time, it is impressed that every season FCN has qualified for the top-6 and thus the medal playoffs. I think that will be the case this season as well, with FCN being my favorite for the bronze medals.

However, there are also super league clubs such as Brøndby IF, OB, AGF and AaB, which has underperformed in the past five seasons in relation to the financial resources of the clubs. The reasons for this fact are diverse and complex: “Poor” buying and selling of Danish – and especially foreign – players, lack of quality and continuity among players, coaches, sports directors and the board, weak talent development strategy, declining spectator and sponsor interest and much, much more . Especially Brøndby IF has been a really bad business both sporting and financial. It is only astronomical financial “donations” of 50-80 million DKK annually from the main shareholder Jan Bech Andersen, who has kept the club “above the water”. Wage costs have been towering compared to most other super league clubs and over the past decade, the club from Vestegnen has been without Danish Championships and “only” won two silver medals and three bronze medals.

Other traditional clubs in Danish football such as AGF, OB and AaB have also had very poor results in recent years. The football pride of Funen – OB –  already has two remaining matches in the basic game with no chance of qualifying for the match for medals. Despite one of the league’s highest budgets, OB has only managed to qualify once among the top 6 teams in the past five seasons. In terms of sporting results, only AGF performed poorly during the same period. However, “The Whites from Fredensvang” surprisingly everything and everyone with an impressive half season in the fall of 2019, when the team finished in a 3rd place. AGF’s start in spring 2020 was –  with a draw against Hobro at home and defeat to Silkeborg – anything but flashy. Just a draw in the postponed match against Randers FC, however, will secure AGF a place in the top-6, which has not happened in the past 8 seasons. “A swallow does not make a summer, however,” so in my opinion, the AGF should qualify for the medal playoffs at least 3 out of 4 seasons going forward from the club’s financial resources. The same expectation should be given to North Jutland’s football pride – AaB – which, after Danish championships in 2008 and 2012, has had a very difficult time achieving results stability. The club has been without medals for the past five seasons and the battle for the last place in the medal game may well accrue to Randers FC – at the expense of AaB. Randers FC, which is actually one of the clubs that, based on a relatively modest economy, has shown great sporting stability as a super league club over a number of years.

Perhaps the biggest dramas in the Danish Super League 2019-2020 await in the relegation game, with the entire 3 clubs becoming “buck”. Among the relegation candidates is Hobro IK, who has actually outperformed markedly sporting with the past 6 seasons, with the club having the supremely lowest budget of all super league clubs. The club’s salary costs this season make up only 1/10 of clubs like FC Copenhagen, Brøndby IF and FC Midtjylland. However, I do not think Hobro IK – and Silkeborg IF – avoid relegation this season. And then another traditional club – Esbjerg fB – has to show far better games in the remaining matches to avoid the last relegation spot. The consequences for all three relievers will be a loss of revenue – primarily in the form of TV money and sponsorships – of 30-40 million DKK. This knowledge is also known in clubs such as AC Horsens and SønderjyskE, which can also jeopardize relegation.

Based on the economic development, in both Danish and international football, everything indicates that very few league clubs in the coming seasons will become richer and richer, while the “poor” clubs will get more and more difficult – in result over a whole season – to surprise and challenge the most money-laden competitors. That is why I believe that the battle for Danish Championship in football in the coming years alone will be a matter between FC Copenhagen and FC Midtjylland. Then the rest of the super league clubs have to fight for the bronze medals or…. relegation.

You can find more information about finances in Danish super league clubs and international top clubs on the following website:

Steen Houman’s blog – https://steenhoumann.com  
The Danish Institute for Sport Studies – https://idan.dk
Off the Pitch – Football, Business and News – https://offthepitch.com/

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  • “Michael Andersen is one of Denmark's most experienced and competent CEO's with a lot of knowledges and experiencies from the international world of sports. In the period as CEO of Team Denmark, Michael renewed the organization, which gave our top-athletes, teams and federations the opportunity to achieve outstanding results in international topsport”
    Finn Lund AndersenCEO of AS3 - Public Sector (2013 -), Director of Human Ressources and Communication at Salling Group A/S (2007 - 2013) and Director of Human Ressources at TDC (1997 - 2007).
  • "Throughout recent years, Danish School Sports has undergone an exciting development as an organization. In this connection, we have made use of Michael Andersen's extensive professional competencies and knowledge within school sports, strategy and organization. His work has given us new perspectives, both on our self-understanding and future potentials. We have greatly appreciated our collaboration and, not least, the way he has shown respect to us. I have always appreciated Michael's honesty and his direct behavior". 
    Finn Kristensen, Chairman of the Danish School Sports (2012 -) and Principal at at Hellebjerg Idrætsefterskole (2019 - ).
  • ”I know Michael Andersen from his time as CEO of Team Denmark. Michael was an incredibly skillfull manager who also had focus at the individual athlete. He took the time to going into the individual topics and challenges of the athlete and he was also very solution-oriented. Moreover, he is a down-to-earth person who is comfortable with being around ”.
    Maja Alm, orienteering - Denmark's most winning orienteering runner with a total of 16 World Championship medals, including 4 WC gold medals in the sprint distance (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018) and 3 World Championships in relay (2015 and 2016)
  • “Michael Andersen is an excellent manager. His human and professional skills enable him to quickly analyze the situation of human beings and teams, thus giving them the optimal coaching, which is the foundation of good performance. I have had the pleasure of the coaching both in the competitive situation and in a negotiating situation, and in both cases Michael's analytical skills contributed to good results".
    Kasper Hvidt, handball - European Championship (2008), 4 Danish Championships and 2 Spanish Championships. Today sports manager of "Astralis" - One of the world's best Counter-Strike teams (E-sports).
  • “Michael Andersen has some unique skills in coaching and to advicing the individual athlete, teams and the federation. He is always very passioned and incredibly well informed. With considerered decisions and clear communication, Michael is able to manage even the most complex negotiations and difficult situations ”.
    Thomas Jacobsen, sailing - High Performance Manager at Dansk Sailing Federation (2009 -) and Olympic gold medalist (2000).
  • "Michael Andersen is one of the best managers I have experienced and been lucky to work with. He was a very active person in relation to optimizing relationships for me and my teammates, so that we were able to win medals at international championships such as the Olympics, the World Championships and the European Championships. In addition, he was a crucial factor when resolving conflicts - and exceptionally good at finding good solutions for both parts in conflicts. As CEO of Team Denmark, Michael has always been aware of our demands, wishes and needs as world-class athletes.
    Christinna Pedersen, badminton - Olympic bronze medal (2012) and Olympic silver (2016), World Championship silver medal (2015) and World Championship bronze medals (2013, 2014 and 2017).  
  • “Michael Andersen has a very high level of professional knowledge and a unique network of elite sports in the Nordic countries, both in relation to research institutions, elite sports organizations, federations and clubs. As editor of "Idrott & Kunskap", Michael has been a great inspiration for developing the journal - from a Swedish journal to a Nordic journal and in the longer term an international journal with English as language. Michael is also a really talented writer with a great overview and insight into many different topics in international elite sports and research. It is also characteristic of Michael that he always prioritize the dissemination of knowledge from researchers to coaches to benefit of the athletes".

    Christian Carlsson, editor - "Idrott & Kunskap" (2004 - )