Allsvenskan Club profile: Malmö FF

The 1979 European Cup is best remembered for Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest defying all expectations and winning Europe’s highest honour. In a competition that included the likes of Liverpool, Real Madrid and Juventus, to this day it seems unthinkable that it should be won by a club as unfashionable as Nottingham Forest. But what many people fail to appreciate is that the achievements of Malmö FF, their opponents in the final at Munich, were just as if not more remarkable.

Clough at least had the luxury of being able to make £1 million singings from all four corners of the British Isles. At the time Malmö FF was a semi-professional club consisting predominately of locally recruited players. By the time they reached the final the squad was so depleted by injuries that they were forced to field two 19 year-olds in the starting eleven, and could only muster four substitutes. By all accounts it was a match where Forest did all the attacking and Malmö had no other choice than to defend gallatantly. In the end they lost 1-0. Yet no other Swedish club has every progressed so far in Europe’s premier club competition, and it is an achievement that Malmö remain proud of today.

As mentioned in previous posts, Malmö FF make up the big three of Swedish football along side IFK Göteborg and AIK. They’ve won a stack of titles, the most recent being 2004. They have a huge following and the Malmö klacken always makes for an impressive sea of light blue and white, interrupted with the bright red and yellow of the Skåne flag. Malmö Support, their main supporter group, is quite possibly the biggest single supporter group in Sweden. Currently they have 2800 members, and once had membership as high as 5800 in 2004.

As with the city of Malmö itself, the club and support base have a more multinational and cosmopolitan make-up. An article in the Göteborg Posten’s season guide published yesterday pointed out that nine of MFF players are of “invandrarbakgrund” (migrant background), more than any other Allsvenskan club, leading the GP to dub them the most intergrated club in the Allsvenskan. It is no coincidence that the first ever black player to play for Sweden (Jean-Paul Vondenburg in 1990) and the first Muslim (Yksel Osmanovski in 1998) both played for Malmö FF. Malmö Support have also made anti-racism a core value of their organisation. As far as I’ve seen, with the exception of clubs built from migrant communities, MFF are the only Swedish club that has translated their website into Balkan languages.

Malmö, once famous for its shipyards, is proud of its working class origins. Much like Liverpool FC, another strong and historically successful club from a traditional working class city, today the club is a financial powerhouse. Malmö FF were the first Swedish club to go fully professional, and are the only club that owns their own stadium. Some of Sweden’s best players, most notably Zlatan Ibrahimović, have started their careers at MFF and selling them on has boosted the club’s finances significantly.

Why Might I have Heard of Them?

The 1979 European Cup would have been the peak of Malmö FF’s international fame.

Any players, past or present, I might know?

Malmö FF have produced some of Sweden’s best players. The most recent stars to wear the Sky-Blue are Zlatan Ibrahimović, Daniel Majstorović, Markus Rosenburg, Behrang Safari and Ola Toivonen.

Of their current players Daniel Andersson is a former Swedish international, while Daniel Larsson and Guillermo Molins are starting to break into the squad now. Nigerian international Edward Ofere has been linked to clubs abroad, and has lived here long enough he could potentially play for Sweden if Lars Lagerbäck decides there is no room for him in the Nigerian team. Manager Roland Nilsson used to play for Sheffield Wednesday and Coventry, and even managed Coventry for a while.

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