What you need to know about Sweden's new football capital Östersund

Lee Roden
Lee Roden - [email protected]
What you need to know about Sweden's new football capital Östersund
Östersunds FK are the only Swedish team to play European football this season. Photo: Robert Henriksson/TT

Few gave them a chance, but humble Östersunds FK have qualified for the Europa League after knocking out three teams including one European giant on the way. You could be forgiven if you haven't heard of their small Swedish hometown, so here are a few useful comparisons for perspective on just how big the club's achievement is.


Though they are the only Swedish side in Europe this season (and the first since Malmö in 2015), it is no insult to say Östersunds FK are one of the smaller teams in the country – in fact, they were only promoted to the top flight for the first time two years ago.

Compared to some of the other clubs who are also part of this year's Europa League, they’re definitely an outsider in the European pool too. In order to get some perspective on where Graham Potter's team are coming from, weve picked a few of the other teams to qualify and looked at their home cities in comparison to the underdogs from Östersund.

Home population (municipal/urban area)

Arsenal (London): 8.78 million

Lazio (Rome): 3.8 million

Hertha BSC (Berlin): 3.5 million

AC Milan (Milan): 3.1 million

Olympique de Marseille (Marseille): 1.62 million

Everton: (Liverpool): 1.38 million

Östersunds FK (Östersund): 61,745

Östersund isn't quite as densely populated as London. Photo: Mr Thinktank/Flickr Creative Commons & Matt Dunham/AP


Arsenal: The Emirates Stadium in north London can hold 60,432 people, and upon opening in 2006 set the standard for other modern grounds with its swanky commercial facilities.

Lazio: Rebuilt for the 1990 World Cup, Lazio share their 70,600 seater Stadio Olimpico with local rivals Roma. It’s the largest sporting facility in Italy’s capital.

Hertha BSC: Berlin’s iconic Olympiastadion, built for the 1936 Olympics then renovated in 2004, is Hertha’s current home, and is capable of holding 74,475 people.

AC Milan: Arguably football’s most iconic venue, the San Siro, which AC Milan share with rivals Internazionale, is one of the biggest grounds in Europe and can hold 80,000 people.

Olympique de Marseille: The Stade Vélodrome has just been given an expensive facelift for Euro 2016, including an ultra-modern roof and a capacity increase so it can now hold 67,000.

Everton: First built in 1892 and undergoing several renovations in the more than a century since, Goodison Park is one of the most historic grounds still in use in England, and has held more top-flight games than any other stadium in the country.

Östersunds FK: The Jämtkraft Arena can hold 8,466 spectators for Allsvenskan games, but rules banning standing in Uefa competitions means it will hold a tiny 5,092 during Europa League matches. Tickets won't be easy to come by. The stadium was opened in July 2007.

The Jämtkraft Arena (left) and Berlin's Olympiastadion (right). Photo: Marie Birkl & Anders Wiklund/TT

Biggest attraction

Arsenal: From Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, to Buckingham Palace, The London Eye, Tower Bridge and countless other examples, London is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world.

Lazio: The Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum Romanum: need we continue? Rome is one of the oldest continuously occupied sites in Europe, and has an endless list of tourist attractions to match, drawing millions from across the globe.

Hertha BSC: Let's see: there’s the Brandenburg Gate, the remnants of the Berlin Wall, the Reichstag building and a clubbing scene that’s the envy of pretty much everyone else in Europe. Berlin has plenty of claims to fame.

AC Milan: Milan’s cathedral, its Santa Maria delle grazie church featuring The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, and world-renowned fashion scene are some of the many reasons it's well-known. The San Siro itself is a major tourist attraction too.

Olympique de Marseille: Marseille’s Old Port, Notre-Dame de la Garde, and beaches on the Mediterranean coast are big selling points.

Everton: Tours following in the footsteps of The Beatles, the historic Albert Dock and the Tate Gallery help make rejuvenated Liverpool a popular city-break destination in the UK these days.

Östersunds FK: The Jamtli museum in Östersund, telling the story of Jämtland and Härjedalen’s history from the Sámi, through to the Vikings and beyond, is the most popular attraction in the area according to TripAdvisor. It's also great for winter sports, it's home to one of the most famous music festivals in Sweden (Storsjöyran), and there's a petting zoo with goats – what's not to love?

Jamtli (left) and the Colosseum (right). Photo: Charlotteshj/Flickr Creative Commons & Andrew Medichini/AP

Local heroes

Arsenal: Born on April 21st, 1926, in Mayfair, Queen Elizabeth II is likely the most famous Londoner of the present age. Sorry, David Bowie, David Beckham, etc. Or to look further back: John Keats, Alfred Hitchcock… Sherlock Holmes. We could go on.

Lazio: You may have heard of Julius Caesar. Or Mark Anthony. Or to jump forward in time: Roberto Rossellini, Sophia Lauren… Francesco Totti? Whisper the last one quietly to the Lazio fans.

Hertha BSC: Contrary to his own claim, John F Kennedy wasn’t really a Berliner, but they can still count Hollywood great Marlene Dietrich among their noteworthy locals. It turns out they also have a Hobbit: Dominic Monaghan (who played Merry in The Lord of the Rings) was born in West Berlin. Who knew?

AC Milan: Silvio Berlusconi was not only Italy’s Prime Minister in four governments, as well as a major media tycoon, he also happened to own AC Milan between 1986 and 2017, bankrolling their multiple European Cup-winning side that is widely regarded as one of the greatest sports teams of all time.

Marseille: Zinedine Zidane was born here – about as close as you get to French royalty in the last few hundred years. And Eric Cantona, reigning king of one half of Manchester since 1992.

Everton: John, Paul, George, Ringo. You get the idea.

Östersunds FK: The town doesn't boast a wealth of globally famous sons and daughters, but the entire Östersunds FK team are probably the biggest local heroes of the moment. A giant screen was even put up in the town's main square on Thursday because there wasn't enough space in the stadium for everyone who wanted to watch their final qualifier against Greek side PAOK. Östersund won 2-0.

The Beatles (left) and Östersund's own local heroes celebrating their European qualification (right). Photo: Robert Henriksson/TT

Östersunds will face Athletic Club, Hertha BSC and FC Zorya in the Europa League Group Stage, starting in September. Lycka till!


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