1st Edition

Football in the Nordic Countries Practices, Equality and Influence

Edited By Mihaly Szerovay, Arto Nevala, Hannu Itkonen Copyright 2023
    260 Pages 5 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores football culture, organisation and development in the five Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway. These countries represent an important case study in sport culture, policy and management, being shaped by unique traditions in their civil society and in social welfare and public policy.

    The first part of the book explores the development path of football in each country, looking at how football arrived in Scandinavia and how it has been transformed from a voluntary civic activity into a professional sport while becoming closely attached to the global football system. The second part highlights key issues – including historical, contemporary and critical aspects – across three themes: professionalisation and changing practices; equality and gender; and supporters, audiences and culture. Written by a team of authors with a blend of experience as academics and practitioners in football, the book traces the contours of the distinctive Nordic model that occupies a prominent position in the global football system.

    Shining fascinating new light on the relationship between football and wider society, this is invaluable reading for students and researchers interested in football, sport management, sport policy, or the history, culture or sociology of sport and for anyone involved in the game.

    Introduction: Mapping Nordic Countries and Football

    Mihaly Szerovay, Arto Nevala and Hannu Itkonen 

    Part I: Changing Football in the Nordic Countries 

    1. Tradition and Transformation in Denmark

    Søren Bennike, Rasmus K. Storm, Karsten Elmose-Østerlund, Nikolaj Schelde and Laila Ottesen 

    2. Growing Participation and Slow Professionalisation in Finland

    Arto Nevala, Hannu Itkonen and Mihaly Szerovay 

    3. Preserving the Balance between Amateurism and Professionalism in Iceland

    Vidar Halldorsson and Omar Johannsson 

    4. Inclusion, Exclusion and Modernisation in Norway

    Arve Hjelseth, Bente Ovedie Skogvang, Frode Telseth and Pål Augestad 

    5. Between Grassroots Democracy and Professional Commercialism in Sweden

    Robert Svensson, Daniel Alsarve and Daniel Svensson 

    Part II: Specific Issues and Themes 

    Professionalisation and Changing Practices 

    6. Football Companies in Sweden and their Democratic Framework

    Björn Horgby and Christer Ericsson 

    7. The Professionalisation of Finnish Football from the 1970s to 2000s: From Amateurs to Professionals

    Jouni Lavikainen 

    8. The Professionalisation of Youth Football in Norway: Implications for the “Sport for All” Ideal?

    Anders Belling, Frode Telseth and Pål Augestad 

    9. Football Fitness: More of the Same, or a Path-Breaking Concept?

    Søren Bennike, Morten B. Randers, Peter Krustrup and Laila Ottesen  

    Equality and Gender 

    10. Five Decades of Women’s Football in Finland

    Hanna Vehviläinen, Hannu Itkonen, Mihaly Szerovay and Arto Nevala 

    11. Breaking Barriers in Norwegian Women’s Football

    Bente Ovedie Skogvang 

    12. Women’s Football in Iceland: Don’t Wait for Change, Just Do It

    Daði Rafnsson and Hafrún Kristjánsdóttir 

    Supporters, Audiences and Culture 

    13. Historical Rivalries in Swedish Club Football

    Torbjörn Andersson 

    14. The Development of Supporter Cultures in Norwegian Football Since 1990

    Arve Hjelseth and Hans K. Hognestad 

    15. Nordic Spectator Studies: The Literature on Attendance and Satisfaction at Professional Football Matches

    Morten Kringstad, Tor Georg Jakobsen and Rasmus K. Storm 

    16. Ethnicity and Aesthetics in Swedish Football: Playing Like a Swede, Fighting Like a Kurd

    Tiago Duarte Dias 

    17. Conclusion: Similarities, Differences and Future Research in Football in the Nordic Countries

    Hannu Itkonen, Mihaly Szerovay and Arto Nevala


    Mihaly Szerovay holds a joint Professor of Practice position at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and the Football Association of Finland. Before taking up his current role that focuses on research and development in football, he worked as Senior Lecturer in Football Studies at Solent University, UK. Szerovay’s main research interest lies in the various aspects of sport and globalisation, the professionalisation in the different segments of football, and the changing field of youth sport clubs. Szerovay played football professionally as a goalkeeper in Jyväskylä, Finland. 

    Arto Nevala is Senior University Lecturer at the University of Eastern Finland. His main topics of research are concerned with the social history of education and sports history. He has published and edited books and articles related to the changes in sports clubs, the development of football and refereeing. Nevala is a former referee in the Finnish Premier League and has also worked as a referee observer and match delegate. 

    Hannu Itkonen is Professor Emeritus in the Sociology of Sport at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His research interests lie in the historical sociology of sport, social control of sport, sports in the civic, public and private sector as well as sport in local and global contexts. He has published books and articles in sport sociology and general sociology as well in social history. Itkonen acted as the president and vice-president (2010–2016) of the European Association for the Sociology of Sport.