Equalize it!: Sportification and Transforming of Gender Boundaries in Emerging Swedish Women’s Football, 1966-1999
Journal article, 2019
This paper discusses the emergence of Swedish women’s football through the case of pioneering team Öxabäcks IF, from a rural village of about 900 inhabitants. From the start in 1966 until the dissolving of the team due to financial problems in 1999, Öxabäck was one of the top Swedish football clubs. They won seven Swedish Championships and six Swedish Cups, and played an important role in advancing national and international women’s football through exhibition matches and tours. How was this possible in a small rural village?
We will analyze the strategies used by the Öxabäck players to convince the Swedish Football Association, the press, and the public that their ambition to play football was serious and should be supported. What aspects of sportification did they try to achieve, as Swedish women’s football went through a rapid sportification process in the late 1960s and early 1970s? We argue that concepts related to sportification, such as rational training and organization, were used to further the cause of women’s football. The experiences from the Öxabäck case are important to shed light on similar processes in currently emerging sports today.