From: Stig Oppedal (
Subject: I Survived The Scandinavian Bronze Age
Newsgrups:, soc.culture.nordic
Date: November 15, 1994

Sweden is the country I love to hate. Well, not hate, it’s more like a good-natured sibling 
rivalry, the kind to be found all over the world amongst otherwise friendly nations. However, 
when it comes to sports, and football in particular, I bow to no one in my loathing of Sweden. 
The reason for this is that for most Norwegians, Sweden is the country they love to ass-kiss.

Sweden’s successful World Cup was a classic example of Norwegians stumbling over each 
other, trying to get in the best licks. On June 28th, Norway were knocked out of the World 
Cup, while Sweden advanced to the second round. This resulted in numerous media comments 
of stunning originality, such as «I suggest that we for once [sic] cheer for Sweden», «Now that 
Norway is out, we have to put our trust in Sweden», and «Now we can cheer for Sweden!». A 
psychologist in VG, Norway’s largest tabloid, insisted that the populace shouldn’t be too 
depressed by Norway’s elimination, suggesting that they instead cheer for Argentina. 

(I’m only kidding - no prizes for guessing which country he actually suggested.)

And when the mass media commanded «Cheer for Sweden!», Norwegians literally asked 
«How loud?». After Sweden advanced to the semifinals, the national radio station P3 had a 
phone-in competition where listeners could enthusiastically shout their support for Sweden. 
How easy it is to brainwash people, once the sweet smell of success is in the air! Worst of all, 
these bandwagoners view themselves as broadminded people, capable of rising above petty 
jealousies to appreciate the success of Sweden.

Or rather, the success of «Scandinavia», which is how triumphs for Sweden or Denmark are 
presented when Norway fails to make a mark. [Note: This does not work the other way 
around. No glory-hunting Swede should think that the Lillehammer Olympics were a triumph 
for Scandinavia!] By kissing up to their Scandinavian neighbors, these leeches are able to grab 
their «fair share» of the glory, something they wouldn’t be entitled to if they cheered for 
Holland, or Argentina, or whoever.

But where were these people, and these journalists, when Sweden failed so miserably in 
Italia ‘90, in Albertville in 1992, in Lillehammer in 1994? Were they so neighborly that they 
were saddened by Sweden’s fiascoes? No way! They were too busy laughing, with comments 
like «Olympic medal count: Fiji 0, Sweden 0». But when the good times came back, these fair-
weather friends were more than prepared to bask in the glow of Sweden’s success.

Like all newly converted zealots, they felt a need to prove their loyalty to the new cause and 
distance themselves from the old one. «The Norwegian team went to the US as heroes and 
came back as ordinary vacuum-cleaner salesmen» -P3. NRK-TV seemed more enthusiastic 
about Sweden’s team than their Swedish counterparts. Not only was Sweden praised beyond 
recognition in the media, but criticism of the team was banned altogether. As an example, 
Thomas Brolin’s shameless quarter-final dive, which resulted in Tibor Selymes’s suspension 
from an eventual semi-final, was completely ignored.


There’s no question that Sweden played much better than Norway did, but their bronze medals 
were surely the easiest in World Cup history. Sweden barely scraped a 2-2 draw in their opener 
against Cameroon, a team in complete chaos due to financial trouble, political meddling, and 
player unrest. Then followed a 3-1 win over ten-man Russia, a disorganized squad who made 
the concept «Cameroonian planning» seem like a good idea, what with a boycott by all the star 
players, internal strife, and alcohol problems. Sweden then managed a 1-1 draw against a 
disinterested Brazil, prompting Norwegian comments of «Sweden had them on their knees!».

As the second-placed team in a weak group, Sweden met in the second round not a strong 
team like Argentina, nor even an experienced team like Belgium, but the 250-1 World Cup 
underdogs, Saudi Arabia, who were comfortably dispatched 3-1. The first _real_ opposition 
came in the quarter-final against the beautiful Romanians, who, in contrast to Sweden, had 
won a very tough group and been «rewarded» with a game against Argentina. Sweden 
knocked Romania out on penalty-kicks, which for me was the worst moment of the Finals, 
especially since I watched the game with three Sweden «fans». Sweden then lost 1-0 against 
Brazil in the semi-finals, of which the Los Angeles Times wrote: «At any given time a Cessna 
plane could have landed on the Brazilian half....Sweden started with a 10-0-0 formation, then 
switched to 9-0-0 when Thern was expelled, before Rehn came on for Dahlin in order to 
strengthen the defense.» In the bronze final they won 4-0 over a jet-lagged and bored Bulgaria, 
in a game where the only player doing his best for a Bulgarian victory was Thomas Ravelli.

Sweden were given an opportunity, and they took it. The brief recap, however, should set the 
over-the-top Norwegian praise in perspective.


In Aftenposten’s ranking of the teams’s achievements in the quarter-finals, Sweden were, 
unbelievably, in second place. A 2-2 draw against Romania was apparently better than Brazil’s 
3-2 win over Holland and Italy’s 2-1 win over Spain. Aftenposten practically apologized for 
«being forced to» rank Bulgaria first after their sensational 2-1 victory over Germany.

Even more bizarre, the ranking after the second round put Sweden on top! Aftenposten felt 
that a 3-1 win against the over-achieving Saudi Arabians was more impressive than results 
such as Romania - Argentina 3-2 (the match of the tournament), Spain - Switzerland 3-
0, Holland - Ireland 2-0, or Germany - Belgium 3-2.

It couldn’t be because it was _Sweden_ who beat Saudi Arabia, could it?

NRK’s panel of experts was unanimous in it’s verdict - the Brazil vs. Sweden semi-final would 
be a hard fought battle that could go either way. Sweden were one of the world’s best teams, 
with several world class players [unlike Norway, as was repeatedly pointed out], and would 
pose the greatest challenge so far for the World Cup favorites Brazil. The praise for Sweden 
knew no bounds.

Strangely enough, these comments were made the day before the _Sweden vs. Romania 

A certain Danish paper had their own version of this phenomenon. In a pathetic attempt to beat 
the deadline, they had pre-fabricated a match report detailing Sweden’s semi-final victory over 
Brazil. A worn-out thesaurus had churned out endless variations of the adjective «fabulous» to 
describe Sweden’s play. Imagine the embarrassment when, due to a computer error, the paper 
printed the «Swedish victory» report!

VG paid homage to the Norwegian myth of the Swedish ubermensch: «I can’t think of 
anything more typical Swedish than Thomas Ravelli. Scorned and mocked before the World 
Cup, he refused to give up...and even Hollywood couldn’t have created a sweeter revenge.» 
An admirable comeback, I’m sure, though I personally thought he one of the worst World Cup 
keepers, and definitely the worst Swedish player. But why is it so typical _Swedish_ to fight 
back, to go from rags to riches?

VG’s columnist Truls Dæhli, giddy from the success of Scandinavian football, took a 
condescending attitude towards the Balkans after Sweden knocked out Romania: «Dark clouds 
threatened the remainder of the World Cup until Sweden won. Before that a World Cup Final 
between Romania and Bulgaria was still possible, and only Brazil could have saved this 
tournament from such a development.» Would a World Cup final between Scandinavia and 
Bulgaria been so much more attractive in the eyes of the world? I think not.

You know you’re in for some major b.s. when a column, by that man Dæhli again, is titled 
«We are all Scandinavians». After opening with the usual self-congratulatory remarks on being 
able to enjoy the success of others, Dæhli turns bandwagoneering into a virtue and generously 
invites us to take part in Sweden’s success: «But if you suffer from an inferiority complex: be 
broadminded, call yourself a Scandinavian this summer [i.e. until Sweden get knocked out] and 
shelve your Norwegian feelings for a while. Sweden may make it to the Finals tonight, and 
there’s only one solution to that party - you have to join in. This party is open for all 
Scandinavians». Why, thank you!

When Sweden _beat_ Romania, VG opened their report with the ultra-slimy «Scandinavia is 
now ready for the semi-final!». Sweden was first mentioned a few paragraphs down. When 
Sweden _lost_ the semi-final, the Scandinavians had pretty much taken a hike: «EXTRA! 
Sweden crushed last night», «Romario sank Sweden», etc. The word «Scandinavia» wasn’t 
used once, not even by Truls Dæhli, whose column might just as well have been titled «We are 
all Brazilians»: «Sweden were outclassed and demolished right from the start, and it was only a 
question of time before Brazil would end Sweden’s misery. For football’s sake, it is a good 
thing that such a technically brilliant team made it to the Final.» So much for Scandinavia’s 
team of technically gifted, world-class players.

So that’s why my mild dislike of Sweden turns to utter loathing of Swedish football. 
Norwegian failure and Swedish success turns a lot of people in this country into brainwashed, 
hypocritical leeches, claiming moral superiority while injecting the addictive drug of triumph 
into their veins. Success junkies of the world unite!


PS On July 2nd, I was at Arlanda airport in Stockholm, when it was announced that the flight 
to Oslo was delayed. This meant that - sob! - I would miss part of Romania vs. Argentina, and 
that - gulp! - I would be watching Sweden vs. Saudi Arabia in a Swedish airport bar.

The lounge was crowded, and spirits were high as Sweden went up to 1-0, and then 2-0. My 
hopes of a miraculous Arabian comeback dwindled ever more, when out of nowhere Al-
Ghesheyan, with five minutes left, deftly pulled one back for the Saudis. I leapt up from my 
chair, clapping and shouting encouragement, before suddenly realizing where I was.

The bar had gone strangely quiet, and with a sheepish grin I sat down, while people stared at 
me incredulously. When Sweden went 3-1 up shortly afterwards, I quietly left the bar...

From: Stig Oppedal (
Date: November 17, 1994

Johan Boye writes:
>I can understand your distress, but from your story I cannot really figure out why you dislike 
>Swedish football!? A more natural conclusion would be to dislike Norwegian sport 

«I’m glad you asked that question, etc.», because this is my main point, which the Swedes are 
spectacularly failing to grasp. God knows Kurt Swanson is going to miss it once again.

I don’t dislike Swedish football in itself. The only Swedish players I actively dislike are 
Thomas Brolin (completely overrated except in the crucial skills of diving and arguing with the 
referee) and Thomas Ravelli (the World Cup’s second best keeper - I should think not!).

I have nothing against Norwegians who cheer for Sweden for _Sweden’s_ sake, and who also 
feel sympathy for Sweden when they fail.

But when Sweden succeeds and Norway fails, many people act as though they are longtime 
supporters, and the media are absolutely grotesque in their uncritical praise. In Old Norse 
times, it was considered an insult if a skald (court poet) grossly exaggerated the 
accomplishments of his liege lord, because everyone in the lord’s hall would know it was 
untrue. Nowadays, the maxim «the bigger the lie, the easier to believe» seems to be the 
philosophy in the press.

[As an aside, I’m reminded of a sketch on the satire program «Egentlig» that parodied the 
vulgarities of modern journalism. A deadly virus infected anyone who started working at 
Akersgaten (Norway’s Fleet Street), and «victims» developed a strange speech pattern: «We 
need the vagina multi-orgasm figures of the oral sex Bosnian Serb casualties. And also the anus 
orgy figures for the Muslims». «You’ll gang rape get them.»]

There’s nothing the Swedish football team can do about it, but Swedish football success = 
Norwegian bandwagoneering. I therefore hope that Sweden dismally fail so I’m spared the 

>If it can be of any consolation, Swedish sport journalists are of the same breed. I remember the 
>World Cup’86, when Sweden failed to qualify. When hearing the Swedish commentary to the 
>Danish first three (very successful) games, one got the impression that it was really Swedish 
>players out there on the field

Hey, butt out, you leeches! Those guys were Norwegians, not Swedes! The Danish (and 
Norwegian) (and Swedish) Dynamite of ‘86 was actually my first introduction to the duplicity 
of «Scandinavian football». I had no strong feelings either way for the Danish team, until 
Preben Elkjær «admitted» in VG that the Danes were also playing for Norway, that they 
thought of Norway before the matches started, etc. The Norwegian media, of course, went the 
whole hog with the «Scandinavia rules» routine.

>But when Denmark got bashed 1-5 by Spain in the quarter-final, the sudden Swedish affection 
>for Denmark soon cooled off...

Sounds familiar. And when Denmark won the European Championship :-), it was unashamedly 
heralded as «a great day for Nordic football». Every other country referred to it as «a great day 
for Danish football».