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Five reasons you've got to back Sweden's women

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Five reasons you've got to back Sweden's women
Some of Sweden's national team with coach Pia Sundhage. Photo: TT
12:21 CEST+02:00
The Fifa women's football World Cup has kicked off in Canada Here are five reasons The Local reckons you should clap for Sweden.

1. They are funny without knowing it

Last month Sweden's women were mocked for their ambiguous new slogan “klappa för sverige” (clap for Sweden), with which they aimed to urge fans to applaud them.

Unfortunately in English the word has another less celebratory significance, with the slang word “clap” also meaning gonorrhoea, which, incidentally, is one of Sweden's most common sexually-transmitted diseases.

The Swedish Football Association's communications director, Niklas Bodell, admitted there had been some “embarrassed laughs” in the office over the incident and said they would tweak the translation to something a little more child-friendly, although the original hashtag has remained in use across social media.

2. Women's football is a big deal in Sweden

Unlike in other European countries, the results of women's matches in Sweden are regularly reported on mainstream television bulletins.

Ask the average Sven or Jonas if they can name any members of the Swedish women's team and they'll probably be able to list at least one or two.

In fact, it's such a big deal in gender-equal Sweden that broadcaster TV4 called for the competition to be renamed ‘VM I fotboll' (VM is short for Världsmästerskap, which means World Cup), without mentioning the players' gender. 

But Fifa were not of the same mind and warned the channel that it could be in breach of contract unless it uses its preferred full title, the 'Fifa Women's World Cup' (or 'FIFA dam-VM' in Swedish). In the end Fifa won, but it's the thought that counts, right?

3. The team has stayed strong after online abuse

They may be household names but that doesn't mean they don't get a lot of stick – even from high profile figures in the sporting world.

In 2013 Therese Sjögan, who spent most of her career in the Swedish League, was at the centre of controversy when the Swedish football federation presented a Volvo car to Anders Svensson, who was the most-capped player in the men's game, even though Sjögan had already played more times for her country and received nothing.

Sjögran was later given a car by Peugeot after saying it was a "joke" that she was overlooked.

Swedish football icon Zlatan Ibrahimovic then waded in on the debate saying: "She can have a bike with my autograph on it and that's it. You just can't compare men's and women's football.”

Unfortunately, the team is no stranger to misogynistic comments and last week Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reported that the players would take a break from social media during the tournament due to the volume of abusive comments they had received. 

Anders Svensson. Photo: TT

4. It's your last chance to see some Swedish greats

The team's coach Pia Sundhage, who led the US women's national team to two Olympic golds and a World Cup silver before signing on to coach her native country's ladies in 2012, said she would most likely be hanging up her boots after this tournament.

“If the Swedish Football Association asked me today if I wanted to renew my contract, I would say no. But so far I think it is rather uninteresting to talk about, because they haven't asked me yet,” the 55-year-old told The Local in an interview.

The World Cup will also bring down the curtain on another football great's career.

Midfielder Therese Sjögran, who has played 209 times for her country, will retire after the tournament to become sporting director of her club Rosengård.

5. Sweden might actually win

With super coach Sundhage at the helm, the team are in good hands and certainly have a better global reputation than the men's team, which didn't evenn qualify for the last World Cup in Brazil.

In a recent interview, Sundhage, who has been training the women's football team since December 2012, said she had high hopes.

“The central line and the goalkeeper are important, if we can get ourselves together there we can go far. Caroline Seger, Lotta Schelin and Nilla Fischer are three world players who can inspire others to play well too,” she told The Local.

Convinced? The women's World Cup will be broadcast on TV4 at 9.30pm on Monday when Sweden will take on Nigeria.    

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