Swedish Superserien down to 4 teams; Göteborg Marvels pull out

The Swedish American Football Federation, SAFF, was hit by bad news this past weekend when the Göteborg Marvels announced they would be pulling out of the top league in Sweden, the Swedish Superserien, a week before the season kicks off.

This sudden departure by the Marvels leaves the Swedish league with just four teams. This is a heavy blow to a league that only four years ago consisted of nine teams. In 2018, there were five teams.

With this, the defending champion Stockholm Mean Machines will battle it out with the Carlstad Crusaders, Uppsala 86ers and Örebro Black Knights.

Marvels head coach Carl Kamm was as upset as anyone about having to make this decision:

“Well naturally this was a really tough decision for us to make. It all comes down to a couple of things. First and foremost due to players dropping off late. We have had three Oline/Dline players drop out in the past couple of weeks alone. This combined with losing over 10 defensive linemen and then the entire starting offensive line from last year will become fathers in May. We were too short on players in the box to play in the highest division. And we just did not have enough money to bring in European players this year.”

Kamm said that they intend to compete in Sweden’s Division 1 this year and will work hard to return to the top league.

With the popularity of American football on the rise throughout Europe and the rest of the world, why are numbers in Sweden dropping?

According to Robert Sundberg, vice president of SAFF, it is not necessarily a decline in football but a drop in the number of clubs:

There may be fewer teams now than 10 years ago overall, but those teams have focused on developing youth programs and the 50 or so clubs are not in decline. Player participation overall is not necessarily dropping although it has flattened out. We are seeing more and more clubs fielding U9, U11 and U13 teams. This is heartening.”

Martin Söderberg, president of the Uppsala 86ers and former president of SAFF, points out that the level of competition in the top league in Sweden is high:

“It seems like teams that move up feel they have to win at all costs. The level of expectation is far too high. In other words, if they don’t feel they can be competitive with the elite teams, they don’t feel they should be there. In other sports, mid and lower level teams are satisfied being in the top league without feeling the pressure of having to win a championship all the time.”

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