B2 Book section
Between Grassroots Democracy and Professional Commercialism in Sweden (2023)

Primus, R. S., Alsarve, D., & Svensson, D. (2023). Between Grassroots Democracy and Professional Commercialism in Sweden. In M. Szerovay, A. Nevala, & H. Itkonen (Eds.), Football in the Nordic Countries : Practices, Equality and Influence (pp. 64-76). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003280729-7

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Primus, Robert S.; Alsarve, Daniel; Svensson, Daniel

Parent publication: Football in the Nordic Countries : Practices, Equality and Influence

Parent publication editors: Szerovay, Mihaly; Nevala, Arto; Itkonen, Hannu

ISBN: 978-1-032-24913-1

eISBN: 978-1-003-28072-9

Publication year: 2023

Publication date: 20/04/2023

Pages range: 64-76

Number of pages in the book: 260

Publisher: Routledge

Place of Publication: London

Publication country: United Kingdom

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003280729-7

Publication open access: Not open

Publication channel open access:


In the late 19th century, football entered Sweden's coastal cities, such as Malmö, Halmstad and Gothenburg. The sport grew quickly, and the Swedish Football Association (SvFF) was founded in 1904. In the following decades, the popularity of football increased and in the 1950s it was perceived as the national sport of Sweden. However, at that time the sport was non-professional and in practice only for men. In order to keep up with hardening international competition, SvFF overturned the amateur regulations in 1967. Professionalisation was slow due to the lack of revenue but accelerated for male players after the Bosman ruling in 1995. Women's football developed gradually from the 1960s and in 1972 a national league organised by SvFF was formed. Youth football also grew substantially. Despite the differences in resources football became well-established amongst both men and women. However, the tensions between idealism, voluntarism and inclusion on the one hand, and commercialism, professionalism and selection, on the other hand, remain. This is best exemplified by the 51% rule, which states that clubs must be majority-owned by the members. This is hailed by some as a guarantee for democratic football, while others argue that it restricts clubs’ financial development.

Keywords: football; sports organisations; sports teams; sports leagues; football players; professional sports; women; history

Free keywords: Sweden

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2023

Preliminary JUFO rating: 3

Last updated on 2023-21-08 at 17:55