Smörgåsbored of football

The national mood was dealt a crushing blow last Saturday night when Sweden's football team was booted out of the Euro 2004 tournament in the harshest possible way - on penalties. After an enthralling game with Holland, the clumsy culprits who scuffed their shots were Zlatan Ibrahimovic and team captain Olof Mellberg. "Oh, what cruel irony that it should happen on midsummer day," wailed Swedes in their millions as the players wept on TV screens up and down the land. And that reminded everyone that they had the summer to look forward to, and they promptly forgot about the football. In Sweden at least, some things are even more sacred than the beautiful game.

“What shall we do with the drunken sailors?” hum the Swedish coastguard authorities, following the news that the number of people who are drunk in charge of boats is expected to hit a record high this summer. In the first case of the year, a man was charged last Sunday for being drunk in the archipelago – whilst in command of a ferry. The 31-year-old crew member on the ferry route between North Lagnö and Värmdö had been out celebrating Midsummer on Saturday night. He arrived to work early on Sunday morning and discovered that the crew captain had failed to show up. So, no doubt buoyed by the booze, he decided to have a go on his own. “He tried several times to moor the ferry by the jetty but failed every time”, said Lars Gretas, a police officer in Nacka. The Swedish police say it may be difficult to keep drunken sailors at bay, but The Local has a suggestion: put ’em in the hold until they’re sober.

Stockholm University was criticised last week for misleadingly advertising one of their courses – which contains a section on advertising. Some students signed up to do an “executive master of business administration” but have now complained that there was nothing executive or masterful about it, and that they did not achieve the degree level they had expected. They were led to believe they were doing an internationally-recognized MBA, while in fact it was another type of business exam specific to Sweden. “Just because master is mentioned in the degree title it doesn’t mean it’s equivalent to an exam of such”, says lecturer Sikander Khan.

Svenska Dagbladet reported on Sunday that a 55-year-old man was killed by a maypole which collapsed at the traditional Midsummer celebrations in Åland. The residents of Karlby village on Kökar had gathered according to tradition when the maypole suddenly fell to the ground and hit the man on the head. He suffered fatal injuries and the police are investigating the cause of the incident.

A fourth DC 3 crewmember has been identified, according to Thursday’s DN. An eight-man Swedish air force team was attacked and shot down by a Russian fighter plane in 1952, causing their plane to crash east of Gotska Sandön. It wasn’t found until June of last year. The remains of three men have already been identified and the fourth was revealed as the flight mechanic, Herbert Mattson, who was born 1920.

Who says local councils don’t do enough to help the jobless? Tord Backlund, a member of the Härnösand Council, went above and beyond the call of duty by getting a bunch of unemployed people to build him a sauna. The project was part of an unemployment scheme designed to provide the jobless with ‘real-life experience’ and organised by Lernia, one of Sweden’s leading skills and learning agencies. Ingemar Alserud, Chief Executive at Lernia, was not impressed that the scheme had been abused and stated that “work and private endeavours should be kept separate”. Backlund, who is a member of the council’s employment division, pointed out that he paid for all materials. “I don’t think I acted immorally,” said the red-faced council member – although it wasn’t clear if that was from embarrassment or because he’d just emerged from his new sauna.

Children should be seen and not heard – not only in Victorian England but apparently in child-friendly Sweden too. Nursery spaces are far and few between and the Swedes have invented “temporary nursery pavilions” outside the permanent nurseries. One of these pavilions happened to be built adjacent to a council building in Kungsholmen, Stockholm – but council officers have ordered that it be removed because they don’t want to be disturbed by the merry laughter of the nation’s future. Or rather, noisy kids. “I am incredibly angry about this. We pay their salaries with our tax money, and they won’t even let our children play outside their office”, said one annoyed parent.

Finally, the mustard in this week’s Smörgåsbord is the news that a leading National Democrat politician was arrested for assault after allegedly hitting his partner at a party. The 34-year-old, Tor Paulsson, was a front man in the party’s campaign against violence against women.