Swedish football is in crisis after an upsurge in crowd violence in recent weeks.
Violent clashes between fans and police during an AIK Stockholm match against local rivals Hammarby on October 18 led to AIK being fined 100,000 Swedish crowns (£7,665) and ordered to play its last two matches behind closed doors, the first time such a decision has been made since 1996.
Newspapers described the clashes as the worst night in Swedish football history.
Violence was expected but the scale of the trouble has shocked the authorities. Despite a huge police presence before last week’s game there had been running battles in the Sundbyberg area of Stockholm involving 100 fans.
In the ground, fans rioted after Hammarby took a 1-0 second-half lead, holding the game up for 40 minutes, before it finished 1-1.
In a sinister twist, police found a stash of Molotov cocktails hidden near the ground the day before the match. According to a report in The Guardian newspaper, the police now believe a far-right AIK gang, unhappy with the team’s performances, were intending to destroy their own club’s coach when it left the ground.
“We were lucky that no one was injured but, of course, we do not like that all this has happened,” said Swedish foootballl association spokesman Jonas Nystedt.
“We have a new generation now and we have to find a way to deal with them,” he added.
Football authorities would like the government to pass a law enabling clubs to ban violent fans, something they have been requesting for five years, added Nystedt.
“We have to deal with this problem before next season.”
AIK sponsors reacted to the incident by requesting that their logos be taken off the club shirts and replaced with the words “Stop violence”.
The brewery giant Abro took the initiative.
“AIK has to get proactive in counteracting violence,” Abro’s Henrik Dunge told The Guardian.
“No contract has been cancelled but sponsors are demanding a plan of action from AIK.”