So is it Helsingborg or Helsingborgs? Only on Tuesday, sometimes on Thursday, and never on Friday. Or, to put it another way, it’s interchangeable when referring to the soccer team and always Helsingborg when referring to the city. It’s also the home to USMNT defender Alejandro Bedoya.
From Rangers to Helsingborg
In the aftermath of Rangers dropping from the Scottish Premier League to the Third Division, players started looking for new clubs. Among them was US National Team player Alejandro Bedoya, who ended up in Sweden playing in the Champions League. Bedoya’s first club was in Sweden, so the Scandinavian climate is nothing new to him.
Helsingborg, without the ‘s,’ is a city of just under 100,000 people on the southwest coast of Sweden. That makes it the 8th-largest metropolitan area in the country. For most of us, its claim to fame is the home of IKEA. Helsingborg is not the southernmost city with a club in the Allsvenskan. That distinction goes to Malmo, further down the coast. Helsingborg is about five hours south of Bedoya’s old home in Orebro.
Oh, ok, we’ll use the ‘s’ here. Helsingborgs is an established topflight club founded in 1907. They’ve been champions five times, most notably last season, which means a spot in the Champions League qualifying stage. In Sweden, ‘champions’ hasn’t necessarily meant the same thing as winning the topflight. It does now, but on two occasions in the 1920’s Helsingborgs won the league title without winning the Swedish Championship, a separate tournament. So their league title count stands at seven. They’ve won the Swedish Cup five times. Apparently, their nickname really is “The Milk Cow.”
How Tough Is The Allsvenskan?
We’re not going to pretend it’s one of Europe’s elite leagues. Helsingborgs are ranked 128th in the UEFA club coefficient table with Sweden coming in 24th overall. It’s proven difficult for an Allsvenskan club to make it through the Champions League qualifying stage to the group stage. Somewhat remarkably, there are ten levels of organized soccer in Sweden, with the 16-team Allsvenskan at the top. Malmo are our leaders in terms of championships, with Helsingborgs in 5th on the all-time table. In one of those quirks that makes European soccer so fascinating, the Allsvenskan passes out medals at the end of the season. The winners get gold, the runner-ups get ‘big silver,’ the third-place club gets ‘small silver,’ and the fourth-place team takes home the bronze.
That would be the Olympia, built in 1898 and with a listed capacity of 17,200. Twice a World Cup stadium – the 1958 tournament and the 1995 Women’s World Cup, it has open terracing at both ends, with 9,673 seats. That’s a problem for playing in Europe, where all-seater stadiums are the norm and seats are required. The standing areas convert to seats, giving the Olimpia 13,000 seats for European games. A 2014 rebuild – the fourth in the venue’s history – will convert the stadium to all seats.