‘Here come “Chelsea” of Sweden’: Djurgården football club on tour in apartheid South Africa

Chris Bolsmann*, Hans Bolling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


In this article we argue that while apartheid, boycotts and South African sport have received significant coverage and focus, this has primarily been restricted to Britain and former white colonies of the Commonwealth such as Australia and New Zealand. In addition, sports such as cricket and rugby receive most attention. We argue that it is useful to consider other countries and sports engaged in apartheid South Africa. We consider Swedish engagement with apartheid South Africa and focus the case study of our analysis on the tour by champions Djurgården to the country in 1955. The tourists received favourable and widespread support in South Africa and Sweden. Yet towards the end of the tour sections of the Swedish press asked critical and probing questions of the club's tour to South Africa. We contend that the tour can be viewed as naïve and apolitical and in a similar vein to the organization of Swedish sports at that time. Only after the intensification of suppression of opposition to apartheid in South Africa from the 1960s onwards do we see a change in stance on the part of Swedish sports authorities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-372
Number of pages20
JournalSport in history
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2013


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