Using the hashtag #FörFramtiden (#ForTheFuture), the 43 players on the Swedish women’s national hockey team announced their withdrawal from upcoming sporting events. The announcement came days before the team was set to participate in a Swedish training program and the Five Nations Tournament in Finland. The boycott is an effort to apply pressure on the Swedish Hockey Federation, who have been failing to fairly compensate and accommodate the women.
“We do not ask for excessive demands, we only wish that we players would feel like a team together with the federation. That all time and effort we dedicate from our lives to the sport we have played since little kids is respected and met from the external world with a professional approach to our athletics, with a burning desire to make Sweden a stronger nation within Women’s Hockey,” the women write.
The primary cause of the boycott is a pay dispute between the team and the federation that has been ongoing for years. Similar to the U.S. women’s soccer team, the Swedish women’s hockey team receives significantly less pay than their male counterparts. The pay is so low, as low as around $2,000 USD per season, that many players rely on day jobs outside of hockey to live sustainably, according to Swedish reports. Hockey events, including training camps, team meetings, and tournaments interfere with the players’ jobs, resulting in lost income.
Hockey officials once had a solution for this issue. Until April of this year, the federation and the Swedish Ice Hockey Central Organization (SICO) had an agreement that players would be compensated for any income they lost for attending hockey events instead of working. Now that the contract is expired, however, officials have failed to sign a new agreement and fairly compensate the team.
Along with unfair economic conditions, the team has expressed grievances concerning the quality of resources, equipment, and hospitality. Going as far back as 2017, the players have articulated desires to quit and have expressed concerns about poor travelling conditions. One report states that the women had to take a 10-hour ferry ride between Finland and Stockholm when an available, yet more expensive, flight was less than an hour.
The Swedish Hockey Federation refuses to assume responsibility for the team’s financial compensation. Instead, they claim the responsibility falls on the Swedish Women’s Hockey League (SDHL). The SDHL was founded by the federation, and yet, they have little access to the resources that would provide players with adequate pay, equipment, and travel conditions.
The women are supported by other members of the NHL and professional hockey community. A Swedish player on the New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad, has pledged to donate a percentage of his Swedish restaurant’s profit to the team. Other U.S. players, including members of the Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche have posted #FörFramtiden to raise awareness for the team’s fair treatment.