The National Sport of Sweden is Soccer.
Soccer in Sweden holds a special place in the hearts of its people, weaving together communities and creating unforgettable memories.
To learn more about sports culture in Sweden, read our article about the most popular sports in Sweden.
Table of Contents
#1 History of Soccer
- 1896: First soccer match played in Sweden between two Stockholm-based clubs.
- 1904: Formation of the Swedish Football Association (SvFF), becoming a member of FIFA in the same year.
- 1924: Sweden makes its first Olympic appearance in soccer and wins the bronze medal.
- 1948: Olympic gold medal secured by the Swedish soccer team in London.
- 1958: Sweden hosts the FIFA World Cup, finishing as the runner-up.
- 1992: Sweden reaches the semifinals of the European Championship (Euro 1992) held in their home country.
- 2015: Sweden’s U21 team wins the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
#2 Culture and Traditions
Soccer is an integral part of Sweden’s cultural identity, with supporters showing immense passion and enthusiasm for their national and club teams. Clubs like Malmö FF, AIK, and IFK Göteborg have established themselves as pillars of the Swedish soccer community, producing local talents and fostering healthy rivalries that have shaped the history of the sport in the country.
Sweden’s fan culture, known for its color and atmosphere, is showcased during the Allsvenskan – the nation’s top professional league. Thousands of supporters gather in stadiums, pubs, and public spaces to cheer on their favorite teams, fostering a sense of camaraderie and belonging. Major events for Swedish soccer enthusiasts include the Swedish Cup, a thrilling annual knockout competition, and international tournaments featuring the national team.
Public viewings during major soccer events like the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship are also a Swedish staple, as fans come together to support their national team and revel in the excitement of the beautiful game. It is not uncommon to see streets and squares adorned with the iconic Swedish yellow and blue colors during these international competitions, further solidifying soccer’s importance in the nation’s cultural landscape.
#3 How it Works: Rules, Gameplay and Equipment
📕 Rules & Gameplay
- Match Duration: A standard match consists of two halves, each lasting 45 minutes, with a 15-minute halftime break.
- Objective: The aim is to score more goals than the opposition by getting the ball into the opponent’s net.
- Players: Each team fields 11 players, including one goalkeeper.
- Offside: Players are considered offside if they are nearer to the opponent’s goal than both the ball and the second-to-last defender when the ball is passed to them.
- Fouls: Free-kicks and penalty kicks are awarded for various rule infringements, such as handling the ball or dangerous tackles.
⚙️ Equipment & Gear
- Ball: Made of leather or other suitable materials, the ball is round and of regulation size.
- Goalposts: Positioned at each end of the pitch, they measure 7.32 meters in width and 2.44 meters in height.
- Kits: Players wear distinctive uniforms, with goalkeepers in different colors to stand out.
- Shin Guards: Worn for protection against tackles and collisions, they are required by the rules.
- Boots: Specialized footwear designed for the particular demands of soccer, including studs or cleats for traction.
#4 Modern Development of Soccer
In recent decades, Swedish soccer has continued to evolve with shifts in tactics, training methods, and the integration of sports science to develop the sport at both the national and club level. The increased professionalism of the domestic league, Allsvenskan, has raised the level of competition, attracting international talent and enhancing the quality of soccer in the country.
Technological advancements have impacted the modern game in Sweden, with the introduction of video assistant referee (VAR) technology to aid in decision-making during matches. Additionally, clubs and national teams have embraced data analytics to better understand player performances and strategize accordingly.
Women’s soccer has experienced considerable growth in Sweden, with the national team regularly competing at the highest level, including winning the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics and the bronze medal in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The popular Damallsvenskan league also sets a strong example for the development and support of women’s soccer globally.
#5 Soccer and the Olympics
Soccer has a storied history in the Olympic Games, with Sweden taking part since the early 20th century. The Swedish men’s soccer team earned their first Olympic medal, a bronze, in 1924, followed by another bronze in 1952. Their crowning achievement came in 1948, when they secured the Olympic gold medal in London. The Olympic stage has been an important platform for the development and growth of soccer in Sweden.
The Olympics have played a significant role in promoting soccer worldwide and showcasing Sweden’s prowess on the global stage. Swedish players’ performances in Olympic competitions have garnered international recognition, contributing to the sport’s growth in popularity both within Sweden and around the world.
#6 Famous Athletes and Achievements
- Gunnar Nordahl: One of the most successful Swedish forwards, Nordahl scored a whopping 43 goals in 33 appearances for the national team. He also held the record for most goals in Serie A, Italy’s top league, for over 50 years.
- Nils Liedholm: A key figure in Sweden’s 1948 Olympic gold-winning team, Liedholm enjoyed an illustrious club career with AC Milan, where he won four Serie A titles and was named the team’s captain for several years.
- Henrik Larsson: Known for his goal-scoring prowess, Larsson was pivotal in Sweden’s deep runs at the 1994 and 2002 World Cups. He had a highly successful club career, most notably at Celtic where he scored over 240 goals.
- Zlatan Ibrahimović: A global superstar, Ibrahimović is the all-time leading goalscorer for Sweden with 62 goals. He has won numerous league titles across Europe, playing for clubs like Barcelona, Inter Milan, and Paris Saint-Germain.
- Pia Sundhage: A pioneer for women’s soccer in Sweden, Sundhage represented the national team over 100 times as a player, later becoming the head coach of the U.S. women’s national team and subsequently the Swedish women’s national team.
#7 Where to watch Soccer
- TV Broadcasts and Streaming Services: C More and Dplay hold the rights to broadcast Allsvenskan matches, while major international competitions are often shown on SVT and TV4. Streaming platforms like ESPN and Eurosport also cover European leagues and tournaments.
- Stadiums and Venues: Experience the passion of Swedish soccer at iconic venues such as Friends Arena (Stockholm), Tele2 Arena (Stockholm), Gamla Ullevi (Gothenburg), and Swedbank Stadion (Malmö).