A friendly between two lower league sides in Sweden had to be cancelled on Monday after at least one bookmaker offered customers the opportunity to place money on the game.
In Sweden gatherings of no more than 50 people are still allowed to take place and seventh-tier Eskilstuna FC and eighth-tier Näshulta GoIF were hoping to get 90 minutes under their belts, but they were forced to postpone after “people from all over the world” started to contact players and coaching staff of the two teams.
“All day yesterday people rang our players and staff,” the Eskilstuna FC chairman, Bengin Ozeran told fotbollskanalen. “They got in contact through social media. It was people from all around the world. They were saying things like ‘hope you lose’ or ‘good luck’. There were more than 100 people doing it in under an hour. It’s been chaos. It was not a fun day.
“We decided to cancel the game for the players’ safety. You never know [what could have happened] after people started contacting the players. They even contacted a coach in the same division we play in to check how we play and how we have played in the past. People even got in contact with some of our former players and asked about our starting lineup. It was sick.”
The club got in contact with the Swedish FA, which agreed with the club that the best of action was to cancel the game.
Another club in Eskilstuna, AC Primavera, who play in the sixth tier, told Eskilstuna-Kuriren that they had received hate messages on their social media channels after losing a friendly recently. “It was after our game against BK Sport that it started to come in messages on our Facebook page,” the club’s chairman, Daniel Karlsson, told the paper. “People from abroad were abusive towards the club and, among other things, we were accused to have ‘fixed’ our own game and someone said they hoped we would die from coronavirus.”
Sweden has taken a different approach to the coronavirus outbreak than most other European countries. The country is not in lockdown and its borders remain open. Schools and gyms are also open with the prime minister, Stefan Löfven, asking the nation “to behave as adults”.