Sweden – Ireland, March 22, Friends Arena, Stockholm

Zlatan addressing a press conference at the Friends Arena following his four goals against England.

As journalists, we tend to get more out of events when we work together than when we work individually, so this page is essentially for journalist colleagues travelling from Ireland to Stockholm to cover the game on March 22.

 
I will include any info I get from the Swedish FA, as well as anything practical I can think of when it comes to being here for a few days and getting about.

For those who don’t know me, I’ve covered sports in Scandinavia for a major news agency for the last four years or so and have contributed to many Irish and international outlets. I’ve closely followed the Swedes for all the 13 years I have lived here, including spending three weeks with them at Euro2012.

If you’re in need of contributions for your outlet please get in touch – I have plenty of file photos etc. should you need to purchase them for publication, and as a freelancer I’m always interested in commissions of any sort. =)

SvFF (Swedish FA) contacts

Hans Hultman has left to join UEFA, and no media officer has yet replaced him. For now, contact the wonderful Ester Kristiansson:

ester.kristiansson (at) svenskfotboll.se
Mobile: +46706550912

In case of bigger events/stories, the Swedish FA Head of Communications is Camilla Hagman

camilla.hagman (at) svenskfotboll.se
Mobile: +46706666225

You can always contact me in the event that you are not sure who you should be asking.

General info about Stockholm

Information about the city.

I’ve lived here for 13 years and never once felt threatened, so it’s a pretty safe place, but normal rules apply – don’t be silly. =)

There are lots of wonderful cultural locations museums like Kulturhuset and the Vasa museum, if you’ve time.

Information about the arena itself.

The stadium is located in Solna, slightly north of the city centre, at the green arrow. The old Råsunda stadium, where some of you may have been before, is also marked:


View Larger Map

Weather

Highly likely that the game will be played with the roof of the stadium closed, so you’ll be operating in your shirtsleeves in the pressbox. It could be damn cold outside though, so plenty of layers and a decent pair of shoes/boots are a must – failing that, thick socks for wandering around.

Scarves and hats are also not to be underestimated. You can also pick up a pair of gloves here for about €6 that will allow you to operate your smartphone or tablet even when wearing them.

The team

Players

As a rule the Swedish players tend to be decent enough in the mixed zones. Given his popularity, Zlatan usually only does press conferences, and one-on-ones are virtually impossible. That said, the likes of Jonas Olsson and Sebastian Larsson are very decent and quotable, as is full-back Martin Olsson.

Erik Hamren

Like most top-level/PL footballers, their numbers are closely-guarded secrets so it can be hard to get them before a game for a sneaky chat. That said, they will put a bit of time into it in the mixed zone.

Coach Erik Hamren is a very decent guy (even if he gets p*ssed off with my constant questioning and switching from English to Swedish from time to time) with a quirky habit of directly translating Swedish words of wisdom into English.

His most famous one was probably at Euro 2012, when he started a press conference by saying “the operation was successful, but the patient died”- that left a few of the English-language scribes scratching their heads…

For the record, tactical questions never seem to get satisfactory answers, but fire away if you have them.

Getting about

From the airports, by far the best way of getting to town is Flygbussarna, which will get you to either Skavsta or Arlanda for about €25 return.

Remember to be out in plenty of time for the return journey though – there will be a lot of fans going the same way and you won’t want to miss your flight home.

The metro or underground in Stockholm is called the tunnelbana, and the stadium is about a 10 or 15-minute walk from the Näckrosen (pronounced Neck-roosen) station. That station is on one of the branches of the blue line – take the train towards Akalla and you’ll be there in about 12 minutes, followed by the walk.

You can also get the Pendeltåg (pronounced pendel- tawg) commuter train to Solna station and walk from there. It’s about ten minutes walk from that station too.

Public transport in Stockholm has a variety of different tickets- the two I would recommend are the rabattremsa (costs about €22, two coupons stamped for most journeys within the city zones, each one will get you nine journeys), or the 72-hour tourist card, which represents the best value – unlimited travel on tubes, busses, some ferries and commuter trains for around €25. More info here.

Genuine Taxi Stockholm cars- if it doesn't have that phone number, don't get in.

Taxis are pretty expensive, and a bit of a tourist trap. There are reputable firms out there like Taxi 020 and Taxi Stockholm and you’ll know them by their colourful cars – but often so-called “free drivers” (ie guys not contracted to a radio company) rip off their livery and, in turn, their customers.

So watch out for small print on the taxi livery – “Taxi I Stockholm” is not the same thing as Taxi Stockholm. Unfortunately, the industry is deregulated and free drivers can pretty much charge what they like – so avoid.

Best to book in advance if at all possible, but in truth public transport is so good that you probably won’t need one until straight after the game. A trip to the city centre from Arlanda airport is almost always for a fixed price – around €40 – €50 is the going rate. From the city centre to the arena will set you back around €25 or so.

Eating and drinking

Booze (ESPECIALLY spirits and finer wines in bars/hotels) is expensive. Most soccer fans tend to gather around Fridhemsplan for a few beers in some of the cheaper bars – a half-litre of local beer will cost you around €4 – €4.50. Beware though – local beers are around 5.4% ABV, so you can end up getting fairly fuzzy fairly sharpish, and it will be appreciably more expensive in Irish bars or posher establishments.

That’s no reason to avoid them though, and those with the big budgets (I’m looking at you, RTE) will find that the Dubliner, the Liffey and Wirströms are the three Irish bars that are by far the best in town.

As if the name isn’t enough of a warning, Galways on Kungsgatan is to be avoided like the plague, simply because they have avoided the irish community here in the same fashion since they opened.

Supermarkets sell beer up to a strength of 3.5% – for everything else you have to go to the state-owned off-licence called Systembolaget. They have less-than-generous opening hours and don’t stock chilled beer, so be prepared.

Breakfast buffets at the hotelas are pretty good – a lot of yoghurts, musli and brown breads – so stock up there before heading out for your day’s reporting.

Look out for lunch signs saying “Dagens Lunch” – for around €9-11 you can get a hearty meal in the middle of the day including bread, salad and coffee, which will keep you going. Many restaurants also do “Kvällens Tips”, which is the evening special.

One definitely worth trying out is the “plankstek” – beef fried and served on a plank of wood with mash, vegetables, red wine and bearnaise sauce. Filling and can be had for around €12-€15.

For everything else, feel free to contact me and I’ll see if I can help you at all.

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