Swedish sport headlines hit gender equality milestone

The Local Sweden
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Swedish sport headlines hit gender equality milestone
Swedish skier Charlotte Kalla. Photo: Ulf Palm/TT

Sweden's most high-profile sportswomen have hit the headlines as much as their male counterparts in the past year, a first for Swedish sport journalism.


Of the ten sportsmen and women who received the most media coverage between October 1st last year and September 30th this year, five were men and five were women, according to fresh statistics.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic topped the list. A whopping 35,619 articles were written about the footballer last year according to the figures compiled by media analysts Retriever and newswire TT.

He was followed by national men's football team manager Janne Andersson (with a somewhat more modest 19,639 articles), popular skier Charlotte Kalla, golfer Henrik Stenson, record-breaking swimmer Sarah Sjöström, ex-women's football manager Pia Sundhage, footballer Lotta Schelin, ice hockey star Henrik Lundqvist, Nordic skier Stina Nilsson and footballer Victor Nilsson Lindelöf.

It is the first time since the survey started seven years ago that the top-ten is completely gender balanced.

"It's a sign that sports are becoming more gender equal. It is a combination of having world-class female athletes in a number of different sports and that the media are playing more and more attention to them," said Caroline Johansson, media analyst at Retriever.

Among the top-20 sport figures who received the most coverage, 13 were men and 7 women.

History researcher Helena Tolvhed, Stockholm University, said it is too early to say if the figures show a trend of gender balanced sports reporting, but said that it is heading in the right direction.

"The world of sports has never been a precursor, but on the contrary, it has been in the backwater in terms of gender equality. But it gets there eventually," she said.

There's a vicious circle when it comes to media coverage, she added: "It's very clear when it comes to women's football. It is said that there's no interest. But if media use this as a defence, then on the other hand they are involved in creating an interest. It's so much to do with stars and teams: building supporters and celebrities, making them into some kind of celebrities that you can relate to."

Apart from Ibrahimovic, Kalla is the only athlete who has held on to her place in the top-ten since 2011.


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