Swedish Professional Football Leagues together with Unibet and the organization Spelfriheten visits throughout the season all the 32 clubs in Allsvenskan and Superettan to highlight the problems that can arise when gambling and what help is available for those who have problems.
“You have to be able to talk about these issues. Everyone should know what help is available”, says Anders Wikström, integrity officer at Swedish Professional Football Leagues.

Spelfriheten is an organization that focuses on helping people with gambling addictions and that cooperates with Unibet and Swedish Professional Football Leagues in matters of responsible gambling.

“These questions are important for the whole of society. We want to take responsibility for our players and we do that in the best way through cooperation and training”, says Anders Wikström.

Sports and the gaming industry have a long history together. However, the game product carries risks and Swedish Professional Football Leagues wants to address these in the partnership with Unibet and Spelfriheten.

“We are fully aware of the risks of gambling and we take it very seriously, therefore it was important that we jointly put together the cooperation and lectures with Spelfriheten. Now we have the opportunity to come out to the clubs and talk to players and managers to prevent problem gambling within Swedish Professional Football Leagues. Sustainable and responsible gambling has always been an important part of our work, therefore it is important that we can influence this through our sponsorship”, says Anders Falk, sponsorship manager at Unibet.

“In our collaboration with Unibet, we have a common zero vision against unhealthy gambling. This means that we need to educate our players and leaders proactively, but at the same time offer support for those who need it. We need to remember that betting is a pleasure for most people, but for some it gets out of hand. Therefore, we want to be both proactive to prevent individuals from getting into gambling problems and reactive to quickly help those who are really in need of help”, says Anders Wikström.

221106 Djurgårdens sportschef Bosse Andersson inför fotbollsmatchen i Allsvenskan mellan Djurgården och Mjällby den 6 november 2022 i Stockholm. Foto: Emma Wallskog / BILDBYRÅN / COP 320 / EW0117

Currently, six club visits have been carried out: Gefle IF, IK Sirius, Hammarby IF, Djurgårdens IF, IFK Göteborg and Malmö FF. During the summer and autumn the visits will continue to other clubs. During club visits, people from Spelfriheten talk about their own self-perceived experiences as a gambling addict, and a relative fills in how the addiction also has a big impact on those around them. In addition to this, the players and leaders in the clubs get examples of the behavior of a gambling addict, how to pick up signals and how to act and, above all, what consequences unhealthy gambling can have both for the individual and relatives.

“This is the disease of shame, where the last option is to tell the truth. Over the years, we have hosted several elite athletes, including football players, whose stories testify to the need to work both proactively and reactively on gambling issues. Swedish Professional Football Leagues and Unibet are creating a climate where it becomes easier to discover, to tell and get the right kind of help immediately, we will be able to make a big difference”, says Finn Stenwall, processing manager at Spelfriheten.

One of those who participated in the meetings is Djurgården’s sports manager Bosse Andersson. Bosse says that Spelfriheten’s lecture was very solid and that it touched many people.

“Football players are in a greater risk zone than many others and it is important to build up preventive measures like this, which are worked on continuously. Everyone who attended and listened got food for thought and became aware of the problem. It raises awareness. I think as a team and teammate you can be observant about the behavior of your teammates, that you talk about it and raise the issue on the table”, says Bosse.

“The lecture itself became very real. It was a former elite player who drew the course, a former gambling addict who told about how the addiction ruined his life and a relative who showed how many people around the addict are also affected. I would say that everyone who was there and listened somewhere in their environment has specific cases to relate to. It was a long time since I listened to something similar that so many people talk about for a long time afterwards.”

230409 IFK Göteborgs Emil Salomonsson under fotbollsmatchen i Allsvenskan mellan Kalmar och IFK Göteborg den 9 april 2023 i Kalmar. Foto: Suvad Mrkonjic / BILDBYRÅN / COP 170 / SM0229

IFK Göteborg is one of the clubs whose playing squad has been visited.

“The Spelfriheten lecture made us think. We got to see what a gambling addiction does to an individual and his surroundings and everything we can do to prevent more people from falling into addiction is important. It is of great concern that Swedish Professional Football Leagues together with Unibet take that responsibility”, says Emil Salomonsson, defender in IFK Göteborg.

“My feeling is that we at IFK Göteborg have a good awareness of these issues and a healthy climate in the squad, but it’s always good to get a refresher and that everyone knows where and how they can turn if they want to.”

The integrity work of Swedish Professional Football Leauges:
Integrity is important to Swedish Professional Football Leauges. We take responsibility for and educate in values, anti match-fixing, mental health and gambling responsibility/addiction.

Swedish Professional Football Leauges and Spelfriheten:
* Together, Swedish Professional Football Leagues, Unibet and Spelfriheten will give a lecture to all 32 clubs in Allsvenskan and Superettan about gambling addiction
* Swedish Professional Football Leagues has purchased a license for the Spelfriheten support line where, if gambling problems are discovered in the clubs, there is a first contact within 24 hours. Quick help is incredibly important as the window of motivation for an addict to seek help can be very short.
* Spelfriheten annually will educate the clubs’ Integrity Officers in matters relating to gambling for money
* Spelfriheten should assist Swedish Professional Football Leagues to design a developed policy regarding games for money that the clubs can use in their everyday life
* When a gambling problem or gambling addiction is discovered, Spelfriheten offers a 16-month treatment that the clubs can choose to use.

230422 Bevattning av planen inför fotbollsmatchen i Allsvenskan mellan Hammarby och Varberg den 22 april 2023 i Stockholm. Foto: Andreas L Eriksson / BILDBYRÅN / COP 106 / AE0104

Anti-match-fixing and gambling responsibility:
Since 2016, Swedish Professional Football Leagues has been actively working to combat match-fixing. Match-fixing is a serious threat to sports credibility. Therefore, Swedish Professional Football Leagues sees it as very important to inform about the risks surrounding this.

Anders Wikström is employed full-time at Swedish Professional Football Leagues as an integrity officer, to work with league integrity and anti-match-fixing. Anders has visited all elite clubs and their academies to talk about gambling responsibility and the risks of match fixing.

In connection with Unibet’s sponsorship coming into force in 2020, the position of Integrity officer was introduced in all 32 elite clubs. The mission of an Integrity officer is to act as a contact person and be responsible for informing and being able to give advice and support in matters of integrity and the areas of match-fixing and responsible gambling. All players and leaders also annually complete training in match-fixing and game responsibility/game problems

All players and managers are told in the training on gambling responsibility and anti-match-fixing that they are not allowed to gamble in their own matches or any other matches in the league.