Damallsvenskan is back and that…. Oh, dam-al-sven-scan. It’s the women’s (dam) equivalent of the male Allsvenskan (All-Swedish), which is simply the highest tier of league football in Sweden. We good? Cool and that means… I know the World Cup only just ended but at least they take a break over the major tournaments instead of just charging blindly through.
Around since 1988, Damallsvenskan has undergone a few reformats over the years but has stood the test of time and remains one of Europe’s highest leagues. Consisting of 12 teams, each plays each other twice (once home and away), three points for a win, one for a draw and nothing for a loss – all very straightforward. The season starts in mid-April (although pre-season starts in January) and runs through until late-October with a one-two month break in the middle of the campaign (allowing for tournaments).
Each season culminates in the relegation of the bottom two teams to the second tier (Elitettan) as the top two from the lower level get promoted up for the following season. The majority of teams are spread out over the bottom half of the country with Piteå the northern-most representative and Limhamn Bunkeflo (LB07) and FC Rosengård the southern-most in Malmö.
As the majority of teams are part-time, with women’s football well respected in Sweden if not lucrative, most teams are recognisably heavily sponsored, with team kits covered in sponsor logos – as they are affiliated with the well-known men’s team of the same name, Djurgården are one of the two exceptions, and Göteborg with their Kopparbergs’ sponsorship is the other. Due to the diminutive nature of a lot of the teams, this sponsorship is vital even if people don’t think it makes for an attractive kit.
Rosengård or FCR is historically the most successful team in the league with ten titles amassed over the years, although some were won in their previous incarnations as Malmö FF and LdB FC Malmö. The current champions, Piteå, are on their first title and upset the odds over the 2018 season to come out on top. A team of semi-pros, they fought off full-time FCR as well as former champions Linköping. The top two from each season advance straight to the knock-outs of the UEFA Women’s Champions League for the following season, and Piteå will be joined by former league champions, Kopparbergs/Göteborg in Europe later this year.
Similar to the Norwegian Toppserien, just with a higher and more consistent level, Damallsvenskan sets the pace for the entire Nordic region. Not the most physical league, the Swedish style focuses more on the technical with players encouraged to have more tactical awareness and think for themselves. Despite a recent exodus of Swedish players – to more lucrative contracts elsewhere on the continent – the league still attracts players from all around the world and has long been a favourite for African and American players.
How you can watch
Having recently partnered with Norwegian cooperative building association, OBOS (as has Toppserien), the branded league has a spiffy new logo and is already looking to the future to keep themselves at pace with the rest of Europe. The league website can be found here, with the streaming platform here. Unlike most women’s leagues, Damallsvenskan operates on a subscription-based service with a monthly fee of 129 SEK (about $14).
With the World Cup kicking off significantly earlier that the Olympics or the Euros, the league took its’ summer break after seven matches, with last season’s runners up Göteborg, top of the table. But with just two points separating first and seventh, there’s plenty of twists and turns left before the end of the season (26 October).