Football corporations and democracy

In Swedish

Björn Horgby & Christer Ericsson
Örebro University


The self image of the Swedish sports movement works on the supposition of being a democratic popular movement. As from the seventies this image is problematized through processes of commercialisation and the growth of football corporations. In this article we discuss the rise of these corporations in a Swedish male football context. We discuss how these associations are governed and how changes in government affect the democratic conditions. The transitions resulted in the reorganization of the administration of the associations. The elected representatives, working as volunteers, were in many cases replaced by officials with professional competences. The administration became more businesslike with distinct structures of decision-making and responsibility. When it became possible, parts of the activities were outsourced to joint-stock companies, which organized transports, service, public relation, and gradually even trading of players. At the turn of the century the joint-stock companies also could handle the football activities. The main purpose was to create an effective organization in order to reach success in football. A secondary purpose was to attract new investment with growing rivalry of players and a globalized market for football players. As a result the conditions of democracy changed considerably.

The article focuses two leading Swedish clubs, AIK from Stockholm and IFK Norrköping. We also compare previous research of leading clubs in Sweden and make an own comparison of two minor football clubs, with limited possibilities to convert their clubs into independent subsidiary companies.


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BJÖRN HORGBY is professor emeritus in history, Örebro University. Together with Christer Ericsson and Bill Sund he wrote Fotboll, kommersialisering, demokrati (Bokförlaget idrottsforum.org, Malmö 2019). He has also written books about labour history, working class culture, rock music and industrial paternalism in Sweden and Japan together with Christer Ericsson and Shunji Ishihara (Faderliga företagare i Sverige och Japan, Stockholm 2016).

CHRISTER ERICSSON is professor emeritus in sport sciences, Örebro University. He has also written books about foundry industry, football and bandy in foundry villages, and paternalistic politics.


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