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Better Together: Swedish Players Unionize

The Damkronorna organize, for themselves and for those who will come after.

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 11
The Damkronorna, shown here at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, look forward to a better future with union aid.
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Swedish women’s hockey took an important step towards increased agency and equality today, when the players organized and joined the Swedish Ice Hockey Player’s Central Organization (SICO) union.

“We welcome the ladies hockey players joining SICO. We are now looking forward to improving the conditions for the women’s hockey players and organizing the entire elite hockey world,” SICO’s Secretary General Erik Zachrisson told NSD Sport.

Several players expressed their enthusiasm for the new venture, including Linköping forward and longtime national team member Pernilla Winberg.

“It’s not a day too soon to organize. This is an important part of women’s hockey development and for next-generation women’s players,” she said in the Unionen press release.

“Finally! Another step in the right direction.”

Damkronorna defender and recent SDHL champion Johanna Fällman of Luleå / MSSK echoed Winberg’s sentiments, saying, “At last we do not have to speak for ourselves. With SICO’s help, we will be able to create better conditions both on and off the ice.”

SICO already represents the men’s SHL league and the Tre Kronor. They also work closely with Unionen, Sweden’s largest union. They describe their mission as “dedicated to protecting members’ sporting, economic and social interests as workers and hockey players. SICO are also representing the players in their relationship to the employer, clubs/associations, their organizations and to the Swedish Ice Hockey Association.”

While this initial agreement is with the Damkronorna players, the long-term plan is to bring in the entire SDHL, as well as “get a collective agreement, where the players are represented by the Union in the same way as on the men’s side,” wrote Kollega Magazine, Unionen’s official publication.

This is great news for female players in Sweden. Prior to now, the Damkronorna have lacked negotiating power when dealing with the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, which has contributed to the continuing inequality that plagues the sport. Going forward SICO will negotiate equal bonuses (they currently receive no medal incentives while the Tre Kronor receive a healthy sum), better conditions, reimbursement, and more.

The current generation of Damkronorna players are cognizant of this move’s impact not just on them, but also on young girls in hockey rinks across Sweden with big plans and bigger dreams.

“This feels right. Now we are going to work together,” said MODO captain Erika Grahm, “to create better conditions for ourselves, but especially for the future of women’s players. Now it’s time to make demands on both the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation and SDHL for a better day to come.”