Sport is hugely popular in Sweden, with roughly half the population taking part in sports activities on a regular basis. In total, there are over two million people – approximately 20% of the overall population – who are members of sports clubs, with many others involved in casual athletics and fitness pastimes. With a global surge on the emphasis of health and wellbeing, this has been on the increase throughout the nation.
Some of the most popular sports for participating in and watching on television include football, golf, gymnastics, equestrian sports and handball, along with motor sport – and, in particular, speedway. The main sports for the nation are ice hockey and football, and great interest is taken in winter sports.
Floorball has particularly grown in popularity during the last few years and has outnumbered other sports in terms of how many spectators tune in or turn up to watch it. There is also some interest in other popular sports such as tennis, basketball, table tennis, orienteering and bandy. Svensk handbollselit is the highest league for women’s handball in Sweden, and has been popular since first taking place in 1951. Least popular of all the sports, though, is the American sport of basketball.
Unique Swedish Sports
A unique sport to the Scandinavian countries is Brännboll – if you’re in Norway or Sweden – or Rundbold if you are in Denmark. It’s essentially a similar game to rounders or baseball, and is played by many people on an amateur level throughout Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It is also included in the PE curriculum depending on your area. The goal of this sport is for a team to catch a player out between two bases when they are at the end of a batting round. This is often referred to as ‘bränna’ or burning them, and is seen as the equivalent to being ‘out’ in baseball. There is a world championship for this sport, referred to as Brännbollscupen, which is held annually in the Swedish city of Umeå.
Another popular sport – or lawn game – that is played across Sweden is Kubb, pronounced ‘kɵb’. The goal of this game is to knock over the wooden blocks, which are referred to as ‘kubbs’, through throwing wooden batons (known as ‘kastpinnar’) directly at them. It is often considered to be a combination of bowling and horseshoes, and is played on a rectangular playing field referred to as being the ‘pitch’. The ‘kubbs’ get positioned at either end of the pitch, with a large wooden block, called the ‘king’, put in the middle. The rules vary depending on country and region, but ultimately the purpose is to knock over all of the ‘kubbs’ on the opposite side of the pitch, before then knocking over the ‘king’ before your opponent.
The games can last between five minutes to over an hour. It is thought that Kubb has its origins with the Vikings, which has earned it the nickname of ‘Viking chess’. However, the first time a kubb-like game was mentioned in literary references was in 1911, in the second edition of the Swedish encyclopedia “Nordisk familjebok” (the Nordic family book), where it is referred to as ‘Kägelkrig’ (skittles war), and is spoken about as being like playing skittles with a ball. Kubb first came into mainstream popularity during the 1980s, when the sets began being manufactured en masse.
Placing Your Bets – Football and Ice Hockey
Although people may place very small, friendly bets with friends over Brännboll or Kubb, typically those looking to gamble in Sweden are more likely to put their money on the larger events and games – predominantly football and ice hockey. Thanks to the launch of ScandiBet in 2017, it is now easier than ever to put a prediction on your favourite games. They offer live-betting and various odds on over 2,000 different markets, with more than 20,000 betting events available for you to participate in each month. There is always plenty to get involved in, plus numerous offers and opportunities to maximise on your winnings.
As well as placing bets on international games, there are also the national leagues in football to place your betting odds on, including Allsvenskan, Superettan, Division 1 – Södra, and Division 1 – Norra. Whether you’re looking to predict which team will win, who will score the first goal, which manager will get sacked first, who the player of the match will be, what the half-time and full-time score will be, and who will get a red card, there’s multiple ways in which you can potentially boost your money through placing successful bets. Just like you, the bookmakers don’t know what the outcome of each match will be, so the ball is very much in your court. Through doing your research, planning ahead, getting great odds before the match has started, and remaining patient, you can be in a good position.
When it comes to ice hockey, the highest division in the country is the Swedish Hockey League or the SHL. It is referred to in Sweden as ‘Svenska hockeyligan’ and consists of 14 teams. Having been first founded in 1975, it has, since 2010-11, been considered as the world’s most evenly matched professional ice hockey league. It was also the most attended ice hockey league throughout Europe during the 2011-12 season, with an average of 6,385 spectators attending each game. Ice hockey – and the SHL in particular – is the second most popular sports team league in Sweden, following on from football and the team league, Allsvenskan.
In 2013, Allsvenskan had an average attendance of 7,627. As with football, many people look to place bets on ice hockey. It’s not just the national league that captures their attention, but also global events including the IIHF World Championship in Europe (with 74 members), Kontinental Hockey League (with 28 Eastern European teams), Russian KHL, and the Winter Olympics. There’s also the Stanley Cup Winner in America and National Hockey League (NHL), to name just some of the potential events. As one of the fastest games on earth, ice hockey can be an adrenaline-junkie’s dream when it comes to placing bets. The speed, power and skill can be hard to predict – but for those who love watching it in Sweden, betting is a great way to get involved from the sidelines.