Gothenburg footballers shun public hugs

Gothenburg footballers shun public hugs
They may hug like men possessed when the ball hits the net at Ullevi Stadium, but IFK Gothenburg's footballers chose to back out of a public hugging campaign organized by the Red Cross at the weekend.

The recently crowned champions of Sweden had initially agreed to dish out hugs to members of the public at the weekend as part of the aid organization’s “Hugs for the Lonely” campaign.

But IFK Gothenburg’s chairman became concerned that the warm embraces of complete strangers could lead to a risk of infection.

“The team has just begun preliminary training in the build-up to next season. It is an important part of the year and the trainers naturally don’t want them to get sick,” Stig Lundström told Göteborgs-Posten.

The Red Cross campaign went national this year after a local Red Cross chapter in Västerås, 100 kilometres west of Stockholm, made around 300,000 kronor selling hugs last year.

“Our idea is to break through the isolation felt by many people all over Sweden … We want people to feel close and connected for Christmas,” communications director Johan af Donner told AFP, adding that the aid organization hoped to make 25 million kronor ($4 million) on its pre-holiday campaign.

The proceeds will be used to help pay for the organization’s work in Sweden, including paying visits to people who are lonely and in need of company, and for the recruitment of more volunteers.