The champions of the Swedish women’s league, Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC, have dissolved their senior side and all players have been released from their contracts just over a month after winning a first league title.
The decision to fold the senior side was made by the board on the 17 December, the day after a 3-0 defeat by Manchester City in the Champions League ensured the Swedish champions exited the last-32 5-1 on aggregate. They told all staff on Tuesday.
Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC will still run teams up to Under-19 level but the investment of Kopparbergs, the brewery and the club’s title sponsor, is being withdrawn.
The chairman of KGFC, which is not attached to a men’s club, Peter Bronsman, is also the CEO of Kopparbergs,and he told Göteborgs-Posten that 17 years after the team was formed, in 2003, there are now numerous clubs in the city (IFK Göteborg, BK Häcken, Öis and Gais) that have begun women’s teams and that they should take the baton.
“My opinion and that of the board is that having a women’s elite team is not compatible with 2021. The big four men’s teams have their own women’s teams. We have done what we promised. We have created a lot of role models and got a lot of [girls] to start playing football.”
He argued that Göteborg is unable to compete with the resources of teams such as Bayern Munich and Manchester City, the two sides to knock the Swedish team out of the Champions League this year and last year, and that that demonstrated the club were no longer able compete in Europe.
The CEO of club sponsor, Prioritet Finans, Nils Wiberg, told fotbollskanalen.se: “First foremost I am very sad for Gothenburg as a city and for all the women here. The team has real value as a symbol for women’s sport in our city. It is tragic – for everyone.”
The team departs having finished seven points clear of 11-time Damallsvenskan champions FC Rosengård and with the best defensive record in the league having only conceded 10 goals across 22 games.
The team’s top-scorer with 12 goals, Pauline Hammarlund, finished with the joint second highest tally in the league while Rebecka Blomqvist was joint seventh in the league with nine goals. They, alongside their teammates, including Norwegian midfielder Vilde Bøe Risa, are now available to sign for other clubs.
A team in the CL just folding like that. How can that happen?
“It is like a bolt from a clear blue sky,” Midfielder Elin Rubensson told fotbollskanalen.se. “I didn’t have a clue, no one did. I was really shocked, sad and confused. I didn’t understand anything. I still hope that someone can come in and save the club.”
The head of press for KGFC, Tore Lund, told Sveriges Radio that had the team progressed to the next round the club would likely have continued into the new year.
The Wales midfielder Jess Fishlock said: “A team in the CL just folding like that. How can that happen? A stark reminder of how fragile the women’s game actually is.”
This is not the first time as Swedish team flying high has left the top division. Tyresö FF, then home to Brazilian superstar Marta, Swedish midfielder Caroline Seger and Spain’s Vero Boquete, reached the Champions League final in 2014 before being dissolved one month later with its parent company deeply in debt and on the brink of bankruptcy.