Swedish women's hockey players to boycott upcoming camp and tournament

Ailish ForfarNHL Editor
43 Swedish National Team players are protesting for better financial compensation. (Getty)
43 Swedish National Team players are protesting for better financial compensation. (Getty)

In a coordinated social media statement released on Wednesday, 43 members of Sweden’s women’s national hockey team announced they will be boycotting their upcoming training camp and Five Nations tournament due to lack of support and financial compensation from the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.

The statement is titled #FörFramtiden, which translates to ‘for the future’ and was posted to Twitter by the players Wednesday morning. It echoes the #BeBoldForChange movement from the United States Women’s National Team and, more recently, #ForTheGame from the Professional Women’s Hockey Association.

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All three movements are geared towards acquiring fair compensation and support from governing bodies.

Sweden’s national team training camp was set to start on Aug. 15, with the Five Nations tournament following from Aug. 20-25 in Finland.

The translated statement explains the difficulty national team players face financially during training camps and tournaments when they are not compensated fairly for lost income.

It’s an honour to represent your country, but it shouldn’t come at the cost that Swedish national team players are facing.

“It cuts into our hearts that one of the first reactions for us who are awarded the honour of representing our country returning is how much minus we will go economically by accepting yes,” the statement reads through Google translate.

As reported by Swedish news outlet expressen.se, there was an agreement between the union and the players' union on compensation for lost work income. However, when that contract expired in April a new contract for compensation for lost work income was not signed.

Sweden has traditionally been a fourth-ranked nation in women’s hockey, behind Canada, USA and Finland. Their best Olympic showings were winning bronze in 2002, and silver in 2006, becoming the only non-North American team to win a silver medal on the Olympic stage.

But after a disappointing seventh-place finish at the 2018 Games, the Swedish Olympic Committee announced it would cut all funding for its women’s hockey program.

How did that work out? Well, a year later Sweden finished ninth at the 2019 IIHF World Championships, relegating them to Division IA, and slipping them to a world ranking of seventh.

Blame cannot be placed solely on the players for Sweden’s recent results. The entire Swedish Olympic roster played hockey in the Svenska Damhockeyligan, SDHL, which is the highest tier of women’s hockey in the country.

These players are elite athletes that have been asked to make immense sacrifices and lose a significant amount of their income while trying to balance life and sport.

To perform at the highest level, athletes need access to professional training, skill sessions, ice time, nutrition and rehabilitation. Cutting national team funding while still demanding results is unrealistic and unfair.

Getting the phone call to represent your country at the pinnacle of your athletic career should be something to celebrate, not dread. Step one: invest in your athletes if you want success to follow.

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