Football

Magic Scenes As Tiny Swedish Club Qualify For Europa League KO Stage

Magic Scenes As Tiny Swedish Club Qualify For Europa League KO Stage

Östersunds FK beat Zoroya 2-0 in the Europa League on Thursday night. In doing so, the Swedish side secured qualification for the knockout stages of the competition with a game to go in Group J.

It has been a remarkable rise for Östersund. Just a few years ago, they were in the fourth tier of Swedish football. The team - which plays in a town with a population of just 60,000 - this year won the Swedish Cup.

Managed by English man Graham Potter, the squad is comprised of players rejected by other teams. There are plenty of players who feel they've got something to prove.

Last night, there were some magic scenes as players celebrated their progression from a group also featuring Athletic Bilbao, Ukranian side Zorya and Hertha Berlin.

A post shared by Karin Frick (@frickkarin) on

The story of Östersunds is a fascinating one. It rivals The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro as a story of a club coming from nowhere to reach heights unimagined. Beyond that though, their approach to running the club is entirely unique.

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Recently, CNN.com ran a feature about the club titled: Östersunds FK: How football's 'Culture' club wins with the help of Swan Lake performances.

The first paragraphs of the article explain just how weird and wonderful their approach is:

Together they have written books, staged art exhibitions and performed Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet, Swan Lake.

They have given refugees free tickets to watch matches and invited them to training sessions. They have even staged patrols to help local women get home safely at night.
These are no ordinary football players. These are the players that make up the squad of Östersunds FK -- a remote Swedish club with a former lieutenant colonel in the boardroom and an unorthodox English manager in the dugout.
The idea, they say, is there are so many ways in which a club can get a lot more out of players who are paid such huge salaries as modern top level footballers are.
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There is a culture coach at the club. Nobody is immune to taking part, not even the club owners. They practice for their performances, whatever it might be, then have a performance night in front of a crowd, which is treated like a match day.
Clearly, the results, which the club say is all about winning football matches, are astounding. The togetherness of the squad was evident in the celebrations we can see above.
The average wage at Östersunds, according to CNN, is $800 a week. Today, the await the draw for the knockout stages of the Europa League.

See Also: David Unsworth Rips Into Everton Players Following Humiliating Defeat

PJ Browne
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