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Court upholds conviction for Swedish hockey player's on-ice fight

David Landes · 18 Nov 2009, 08:12

Published: 18 Nov 2009 08:12 GMT+01:00

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In April of this year, Tobias Dahlström of the Nora HC hockey club in central Sweden became the first hockey player in the country to be sentenced to prison for fighting during a match when the Västmanland District Court found him guilty of assault.

The conviction, which came with a two-month prison sentence, stemmed from an on-ice altercation between Dahlström and an opposing player from Skultuna during a league match in Sweden’s Division 3 back in 2007.

The two players have a history of mixing it up, both having served match penalties following a violent exchange during a previous meeting of the two teams.

The intensity of the feud between Dahlström and his adversary from Skultuna, who Dahlström referred to as "the most hated player in the league", flared up again when the two teams met again in November 2007.

“It was a chaotic match with a lot of fighting. You always grab a hold of the other guy in a fight, and I certainly grabbed his collar. And according to him, I got a hold of his necklace so that he thought I was trying to strangle him. That’s probably right, but if you look at the injuries, he didn’t get any,” Dahlström told TV4’s Hockeykanalen following his April conviction.

But a few months after the match, the Skultuna player reported the matter to police.

“I was really surprised. But the police didn’t think it would go anywhere. And I didn’t think so either,” said Dahlström.

During the ensuing investigation, police learned that Dahlström had provoked the Skultuna player for much of the match before delivering three or four punches to his opponent’s face and helmet, and grabbing his chin strap, according to the Nerikes Allehanda (NA) newspaper.

The prosecutor then decided to file formal assault charges against the hockey player, because he wanted to show that “athletes aren’t above the law”, according to Dahlström.

Following the initial guilty verdict, Dahlström appealed the decision to the Svea Court of Appeal, which last week ordered his sentence reduced to a suspended sentence and a fine of 21,000 kronor ($3,050).

While happy about avoiding prison time, Dahlström remains frustrated that the guilty verdict still stands.

Story continues below…

“I don’t get it. This sort of thing happens in almost every match, just watch TV. And my opponent was able to keep playing, he never went to hospital. He only reported me after the fact to provoke me,” he told NA.

But despite his misgivings, Dahlström said he would let the ruling stand rather than appeal to the Supreme Court.

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

10:06 November 18, 2009 by Glempa
Dahlström should be treated exactly the same as if he did this on the street, outside a pub, restaraunt or whatever. I don't know whether he would have got the same punishment from a swedish court for a street brawl, but there should be no difference.

It is about time that sportsmen set an example when playing, as violence on the field/ice can influence younger people. How many of us prefer to see a clean game of football rather than the violent/fouling/abusive games we see in Italy and South America?
10:13 November 18, 2009 by misssh
Better that they are fist fighting than some mongral on the streets with knifes and guns that take out the innocent public !

Maybe the swedish law should make more of an example of that sort of criminal instead of a dust up in a hockey match...... they have enough protection to not get killed and if they take there helmet of for the fight they deserve a punch in the head...

there is always dust ups in rugby and there is a system in place via the IRB that sorts them out but definitely not a jail sentence!

swedish law never seem´s to surprise me to be honest
10:30 November 18, 2009 by BrittInSweden
Football is a game made up of players too scared to mess up their hair let alone fight.

Also football is a none contact sport, tempers are always going to flare in a contact sport like rugby and ice hockey.

Put it this way, how many fan fights do you see at rugby macthes compared to football? It is because all the fighting is done by the players not the fans.

Just sounds like the Skultuna player is a tw** and did it out of spite cos he got his arse kicked.
11:13 November 18, 2009 by CanadianCoder
Yeah, I think its lame how players can't fight in hockey over here. It is a good part of the game and is nothing like a street fight at all.

I don't really understand this safety-first, setting a good example for children, etc viewpoint going around. Aren't sports supposed to be physically demanding, sometimes violent and at the same time beautiful. Not sure why any country would have a high demand for marshmallow athletes.
11:25 November 18, 2009 by Rick Methven
This is stupid.

The fight happened in a hockey match and punishment 10 +game IE a match ban was handed out by the ref. For the other player to go to the police about it 2 months later is just being petty and vindictive. In my years as a hockey manager, I have seen much worse attacks by players on each other - skates in the face for example where no action has been taken by the ref. If this had happened in Elite Serien or the NHL it would only have got the player(s) a 10 minute penalty at max possibly only a 2 min penalty.

Fighting is more and more common in Swedish Hockey thanks to the influence from the NHL

Its the old story - "I went to a fight last night and suddenly some hockey broke out"
12:13 November 18, 2009 by Beynch
Who was his attorney? How mmuch did he pay him? And who else is on the take?
12:26 November 18, 2009 by bravedave
Football is a contact sport though it is reffered to as 'limited contact' where as Hockey is a 'full contact sport'.

Fighting is part of the game and will never go away. For someone to report fighting in a hockey match to the police, and getting a conviction out of it, could potentially destroy the sport, reducing it to a non contact sport.

Fighting is not part of the contact that is allowed in hockey but it happens and it usually happens after checking, this is part of the game.

So to stop fighting in hockey you need to take out checking and make it a non contact sport which will never happen.

You try and tell a hockey player to count to ten after being mowed down by his oppenent, not going to happen.

I agree that the sentance should be suspended and the police and courts should focus their efforts on anti-social behaviour and people fighting on the streets.
15:02 November 18, 2009 by Rick Methven
In Sweden checking is not allowed in Hockey for under 16's. This 'A' makes youth hockey very boring and 'B' makes young hockey players go checking mad once they reach the age that they can legally check. This ends up with a lot of bad checks and then fists fly. In senior hockey a bad check may get the ref to blow for a penalty but the ref and linesmen are usually slow to get between players.
15:10 November 18, 2009 by Roger O. Thornhill
Take fighting out of the game and you get an increase in stick work.
15:13 November 18, 2009 by Rick Methven
Its usually stick work that leads to a fight - High Sticking or slashing
21:13 November 18, 2009 by Greg in Canada
Hey, these guys are ready for NHL contracts. LOL!

I don't know why there is always so much fighting in hockey. It's not as bad as it used to be but still too much. If fans want to see fights then they should watch boxing.

Here's a Canadian hockey joke:

I went to watch the fights last night but a hockey game broke out. :-)
21:09 November 22, 2009 by taku460
it's not like there has never been fighting, if you don't like fighting don't go into hockey!!! the looser is just mad and used the police.
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