STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish Football Association has caused a storm in the famously gender-equal country by giving Anders Svensson a car to mark his record 146 caps while his female counterpart walked away empty-handed.
Midfielder Svensson was presented with the key to a brand new Volvo during the annual Fotbollsgalan ceremony on Monday in recognition of breaking Thomas Ravelli’s record of 143 caps.
Also in the audience, however, was 36-year-old midfielder Therese Sjogran who has a record 187 caps for the national women’s team.
Sjogran was part of the Sweden side that lost a Euro 2013 semi-final on home soil to Germany as women’s football fever swept through Sweden and many of her team mates expressed their displeasure on Twitter.
Their comments sparked an immediate storm as viewers and fans watching the gala strongly criticized the association for not treating men and women equally.
The association acknowledged its mistake, saying it had always intended to honor Sjogran but that she was still playing whereas Svensson is expected to retire after the current World Cup campaign.
“In retrospect we probably could have communicated it better and more clearly,” SvFF chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson told state broadcaster SVT on Tuesday.
Sjogran, initially reluctant to comment, expressed her disappointment to SVT.
“It’s not about the car itself, it’s the way they did it,” she said. “If they honored him they should honor me.”
Reporting by Philip O'Connor, editing by Ed Osmond