Sweden's World Cup shirts will feature female role models and girls in Australia are inspired


World Cup Fans looks at some of the nations competing in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, through the eyes of their fans in Australia.

A large majority of Australia’s Swedish community call Sydney’s northern beaches home.

The Rossel family made the move four years ago and have no regrets.

“The lifestyle here really suits us,” Katarina Rossel said. “The kids have really settled in and I think now they like it better here than in Sweden.”

A short time after moving to Australia, Katarina signed her son, Albert, and daughter, Isabella, up to play football.

Sweden World Cup fans
The Rossel family moved from Sweden to Sydney.
Adrian Arciuli

“When we first came here, we didn’t know anything about rugby, cricket and netball,” she told SBS News. 

“It doesn’t exist in Sweden, so it was a way in for both of the kids ... since it’s a team sport, it’s quite easy for them to make friends.”

“Football has been a great thing for the family.”

Isabella joined Brookvale Football Club and is playing in the under 14s team along with two other girls who share a similar story.

Hedda Holmkveist and Zoe Grimsgard were also born in the Swedish capital of Stockholm.

Hedda Holmkveist, Isabella Rossel, Zoe Grimsgard.
Hedda Holmkveist, Isabella Rossel and Zoe Grimsgard were all born in Sweden.

The trio uses their multilingual skills to their advantage by speaking Swedish on and off the field. They all agree it’s more enjoyable playing football in Australia.

“I feel because the weather is so nice here, you can be outside more,” Isabella said.

“A lot of girls play football here, where in Sweden, it wasn’t as normal,” Zoe added. 

Wearing their role models

Sweden has appeared at every FIFA Women’s World Cup since the tournament’s inception in 1991. And the team’s eighth campaign will have extra significance for the players.

The numbers on their jerseys will be filled with pictures of 48 female role models that have been selected by the team.

Among them is former player and coach Pia Sundhage, golfer Annika Sörenstam, actress Alicia Vikander and 17th-century monarch Christina, Queen of Sweden. One number was left blank so fans could nominate their role models. 

It isn’t the first time Sweden has used its playing uniforms to make a statement. In 2017, motivational tweets replaced the players’ names on the back of the jerseys.


Zoe said the team has helped teach her how to behave on and off the field.

“When I watched football at home [in Sweden] they were role models.”

“I thought it was cool how they were standing out because the main thing is that girls usually wear skirts.”

This year's tournament is the first time many of the 24 nations competing will have their own specially designed playing strips.

Ms Rossel thinks women in Sweden are, to a large extent, treated equally to men.

“There’s not such a big difference between men and women,” she said.

“You can see that both in the workplace but also on the football field ... It’s not such a big issue and I think that’s really good.”

But for many, the fight for equality is far from over, with this year's competition expected to shine a light on the gender pay disparity in the sport. 

Nilla Fischer
Nilla Fischer of Sweden, right, and Giulia Gwinn of Germany battle for possession in a friendly in April.
Getty Images

Swedish international Nilla Fischer said in an interview this year: "What they maybe make in an hour, I make in a year". 

Fischer, who will move from German side VfL Wolfsburg to Sweden's FC Linkoping after the Women's World Cup, also spoke out last year about the challenges of being gay and in the public eye.

"Being a woman playing soccer, and being a gay woman, provokes a lot of hate," she told The Guardian. 

Sweden World Cup fans
Members of Australia's Swedish community.
Adrian Arciuli

Sweden’s best finish at the World Cup was in 2003 when they were runners up to Germany. They enter this year’s edition as the ninth-ranked side in the world.

Sweden is in Group F alongside defending champions USA and Thailand, as well as Chile, who they play first on 12 June.

The games will be broadcast at unfriendly viewing hours in Australia next month, but it won’t stop Hedda, Isabella and Zoe from getting together to watch their heroes.

“We might have some cinnamon buns,” Zoe said. 

“Swedish meatballs” is what Isabella is hoping for.

The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup takes place in France, 7 June-7 July.

Read more news from the Women's World Cup and see the rest of the stories in the World Cup Fans series.  

SBS will offer all Matildas matches, the opening game, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final live, free and in HD. All SBS games will also be live streamed on The World Game website and app.

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