“Decidedly frosty”: Conflict and cooperation in the management of Swedish elite football matches

Jonas Havelund1,2 Neil Williams2,3Anders Almgren2 Filip Lundberg Verendel2
1Dept. of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark
2Enable Sweden 3School of Psychology, Keele University, UK

Football is a major attraction in Sweden with over two million people attend games in the highest division – Allsvenskan – in 2018. Organising these games requires collaboration between the main stakeholders: the police, the clubs and the supporters. The success of such relationships is largely dependent on respectful collaboration between all parties to secure safe management of crowds at football. All stakeholders have invested significantly in their ability to build legitimacy through communication and collaboration with other stakeholders, and recent research conducted between 2014 and 2017 in Sweden suggested that to a large extent Sweden is at the forefront when it comes to good practice in the collaboration between the main stakeholders. However, during the 2019 season there has been a steadily growing sense of mistrust between stakeholders, which has impacted significantly upon the working relationship between them. This article will analyse those developments in order to illuminate the intergroup dynamics at play in the football environment. Based on an analysis of the developments, a series of recommendations will be made with the main aim of improving the relationship between the stakeholders.

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JONAS HAVELUND is a part time researcher working at Department of Sports Science and Clinical Biomechanics at University of Southern Denmark. His research interests lie in the interaction between football supporters and police. He has cooperated with football supporters, clubs and police institutions for more than ten years.  

NEIL WILLIAMS is Doctoral Candidate in the School of Psychology at Keele University, UK. His PhD thesis concentrates on the intergroup and intragroup dynamics of football crowds in Sweden and how a human rights oriented approach to crowd management can reduce intergroup hostility and conflict.

ANDERS ALMGREN is the operational manager of ENABLE Sweden. He holds a master’s degree in Sociology from Gothenburg University. Before joining ENABLE Sweden he worked 5 years as a Supporter Liaison Officer at IFK Göteborg. Anders regularly does presentations at police courses on counterpart perspective and police legitimacy. 

FILIP LUNDBERG VERENDEL holds a master’s degree in Political Science from Södertörn University. He is the co-founder of ENABLE Sweden. Filip works as head of sustainability at Djurgårdens IF where he works with football and ice hockey.

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