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Sundsvall out of SDHL

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Swedish league goes from ten teams to nine after Sundsvall’s women’s team was cut to save money for men’s club.

Beatrice Johannson (pictured) and the rest of the Sundsvall women’s hockey team found out their team had been cut from the SDHL via Facebook.
Andreas Planck

"Like a punch in the face."

The SDHL (Svenska Damhockeyligan) is down to nine teams after Tuesday's news that Sundsvsall will not field a squad in 2017.

The men's Sundsvall team plays in the third-tier Division 1 league and has been in a state of financial crisis for some time. They began a fundraising effort back in April with the goal of 200,000 SEK (approximately $23,000) and as of May 27th had earned 173,000 SEK (approximately $19,894). However, the club still has a negative equity of 4.5 million.

Their latest plan to regain their economic footing? Cut the women's program, while the men's program will carry on.

"It feels a bit like a punch in the face," Sundsvall captain Beatrice Johannson told SVT Sport on Wednesday.

The team didn't get the news from organization officials or their coaches. Rather, they found out Tuesday night in a Facebook message from a club volunteer, according to forward Mathilda Gustafsson. Word then spread among the players via text and social media.

"No meeting, not even a phone call," Gustafsson lamented to SverigesRadio.

"It's discrimination"

Gustafsson took her anger to Twitter, where she posted a long statement chastising Sundsvall Hockey for their financial mismanagement, favoritism for the men's squad, and their handling of this situation.

In addition, she told The Ice Garden, "If we were a company instead of an association, you would never shut down a department [which] only employed women because the cost inhibits the male employee. It's discrimination."

Her sentiment was echoed by Örjan Lindström, who coached Sundsvall in the Riksserien days and still works with the club. "For me it is amazing the Board put down the only successful business you have in the association," he told SverigesRadio.

He also mentioned the club's fondness for touting their youth development among both genders, "But there is no youth activity, it's a boy activity. It's kind of a men's club."