A research report made by STAD at Karolinska Institutet (KI) shows for the first time the betting habits of players in clubs in Allsvenskan and Superettan. The study was ordered by Swedish Professional Football Leagues.
“Through Swedish Professional Football Leagues, we at STAD have been given the opportunity to reach out to Swedish men’s elite football players in a total survey, which means a unique opportunity to survey the entire target group at both senior and junior level. In addition to a solid basis for the development of preventive measures, the survey makes a unique contribution to the knowledge of health and risk behaviors among elite football players in Sweden”, says Tobias Elgán, researcher at STAD, KI.
“The reason why we ordered the report is that in recent years we have seen and heard several stories from elite athletes who suffer from health challenges and various types of risky behaviour. We want to work for real and, in consultation with our clubs, be able to develop even more effective promotion, prevention and emergency measures. Therefore, there was a need for a research report on what it actually looks like in our clubs. Now we have the answers to the extent of our challenges as well as proposals for different types of efforts, which will be the next step in our work”, says Anders Wikström, responsible for league integrity at Swedish Professional Football Leagues.
Surveys and interviews
The study, which was carried out via online surveys and in-depth interviews, is a review of all players, managers and other personnel in the 32 clubs in Allsvenskan and Superettan 2021, from academy to senior. KI has looked at mental health and risk behaviors in elite football players. The report will be released in two parts. Today, the first part is presented, which concerns gambling for money.
“In short, it can be said that Swedish elite football, just like the society at large, has its fair share of challenges in these areas. For some years now, we have invested a lot in developing both our proactive and reactive work around these issues, and with the report as a basis, we will be able to further strengthen that work”, says Anders Wikström.
Also match fixing
Part of the study deals with match fixing. Those who participated in the survey answer here that questions about match-fixing still exist today. Previous studies both nationally and internationally have shown that elite athletes have a higher proportion of individuals with gambling problems than the normal population. KI’s study confirms this and also provides clear proposals for action.
“This needs to be addressed further. Already today, we have a strong foundation with initiatives around education in these game-related issues, but we must do more. The proposals from the research group fall primarily into two areas. Partly because we are working on clarifying policies, partly because we are developing our training efforts”, believes Anders Wikström and continues.
“As far as I know, we are the first football league ever to make such a comprehensive report on its operations. I am happy that we did it and that we now have a good tool in our continued work.”
Start development work
All results have been communicated in the Swedish Professional Football Leagues organization and the clubs are now ready to begin development work to reduce the problems.
The second part of the research report concerns mental health. It will be presented in the beginning of 2023.