The Swedish Hockey League cements its cooperation with the LGBT community and its activism. The #enavoss (“one of us”) event is currently underway and will last throughout week eight. As part of the festivities, there will be an in-depth collaboration with lobbyists within the so-called Rainbow Fund.
Swedish ice hockey has been strengthening its LGBT profile for some time and in various ways. One example is when the prominent LGBT TV profile Mark Levengood was invited to be the celebratory marshal during the gala “Tidernas Hockeygala” last autumn. Now they are taking the next step in connection with the “hockey party that highlights important LGBTQI issues – SHL Pride Week“.
The aim of it all is, according to the SHL’s website, “to be more inclusive that hockey should be a place for everyone. We shouldn’t lose anyone’s interest in the sport and the community along the way, and here the clubs and players are great ambassadors”.
– We are delighted to be able to implement SHL Pride Week for the third time. The work during this week generates a lot of commitment and is a big part of making ice hockey a place for everyone,” says Jenny Silfverstrand, CEO of SHL.
She adds that they have received negative feedback, but that it strengthens their belief that political activism is even more important to bring into the hockey league.
– As we… see some negative comments linked to the week, (it) reinforces the importance of us implementing it. A common comment is that sport and politics do not go together. But for us, human rights are not politics, hockey should be a place where everyone feels welcome, Silfverstrand continues.
The SHL is organizing the event in cooperation with the Rainbow Foundation, an organization whose main purpose is to spread the LGBTQ movement’s ideas across the entire social sector – including the various sports arenas.
Among the founders of the Rainbow Fund are a number of well-known lobbyists in the LGBT sphere. These include founders Jonas Gardell (married to Mark Levengood), John Voss, and board chair Nina Jonsson. Another prominent person is board member Per Sjödell.
In addition to his position as a member of the Rainbow Fund, Sjödell is also chairman of Arkvision Nordic, Identity Works, CIP Global Executive Search and vice chairman of Posti Group and the Swedish Fashion Association. He is also a board member of Spendrups, Swedavia, Spring Wine & Spirits, Haypp Group and Carismar.
In 2021, the Rainbow Fund had a net turnover of 5.2 million and receives around 36,000 SEK in donations every month. Regarding the Foundation’s financial instruments, it is worth noting that, according to the Foundation’s governing documents, “it is not possible to trace individual donations, i.e. it is not certain that a particular donation was used for the exact purpose stated”.
With reference to the governing document and in light of the fact that the proceeds from SHL Pride Week go to the Rainbow Fund, it is somewhat unclear what the money goes to. Opponents of the stunt also argue that the SHL and other sports federations should not concern themselves with the agendas of various interest groups but instead focus on their core business – preferably sport.
SHL and LGBTQ activism: In 2019, SHL started to work structurally with LGBTQ issues both internally and externally through SHL and the clubs' channels. Last year, all teams in the SHL were "trained" on LGBTQ issues. This year, HV71, which last season did not play in the SHL, will undergo the same training. Overall, this is the third year the training has been carried out within the SHL organization and in total over 500 people in the leagues and clubs have been trained.
The Rainbow Fund: 'The Rainbow Fund's purpose is to work with funding to support competent organizations and projects in countries where rainbow people are discriminated against and persecuted. The Rainbow Fund also works on advocacy projects in cooperation with other organizations".