Culture & Sport

Swedish ice hockey team withdraws the redesign of a controversial logo

Frölunda Hockey Club, a professional ice hockey team in Sweden withdrew its redesigned logo two days after the release because of accusations of plagiarism, references to Nazism and threats to board members. The redesign was supposed to replace another controversial logo.

Frolunda ice hockey club
© Frölunda HC, Facebook

Frölunda HC, a professional ice hockey team in Sweden, decided on February 4 to cancel its logo redesign two days after it was revealed to the public.

The new logo was criticized for plagiarism and some associated it with German symbols from the 1930s. Yet, it was supposed to replace another controversial logo.

Frölunda Hockey Club was founded in 1938 in Gothenburg, the second largest city in Sweden. It competes in the highest league of the country and was crowned twice in the last four championships.

The club’s logo depicted an American Indian since 1995 and Frölunda HC used to called the Frölunda Indians. During successful years for the club in the 1960s, fans started to nickname it the Wild West but didn’t want to be associated with cowboys or firearms.

However in September 2020, Frölunda HC’s board decided to change the club brand identity.

Similar to baseball or U.S. football teams using Native American name or logo, the club name was considered as offensive and ceased to be used last September. They also wanted to replace the dated and controversial logo.

The new logo withdrawn two days after its official release

On February 3, Frölunda HC organized a live broadcast to reveal the new logo design.

Changing a brand identity and bringing a more modern look can often raise discontent among critical supporters who see the club history vanishing.

As expected, debate has been intense among fans but “Frölunda HC was prepared for a new club brand to create sharp reactions”, the club said in a statement. It created “intense debate on media and on social media platforms”, which, for the club, “testifies to an enormous commitment for Frölunda HC”.

Frölunda Hockey Club has a large fan base and often enjoys the highest home attendance of the league.

Among disappointed fans, some hoped the club would come back to the logo before 1995, and wished supporters were more involved in the decision-making process.

However, the controversy escalated to another level.

Frolund Hockey Club logos - cancelled and American Indian one
Left: Frolunda Hockey Club’s logo withdrawn 2 days after being revealed to the public. Right: the current club logo created in 1995 | Montage

Threats, accusation of plagiarism and alleged connection to Nazi symbols

On Thursday, “the tone gradually changed and the new club brand was associated with symbols from 1930s Germany – an analogy the association regrets and strongly dissociates itself from.”

The new logo would resemble the Nazi’s Swastika. An online neo-Nazi Swedish publication praised the change.

The logo has also been accused of plagiarism.

It was considered to be too similar to the logo of sportswear brand Hansdotter, founded by the former Swedish alpine skier and Olympics gold medalist Frida Hansdotter. The brand was launched few weeks ago and the similarity also stroke the new entrepreneur, which raised internal discussions about the next steps to take.

It would also look like a real estate advocacy group in Sweden, Fastighetsägarnas.

Yet, the club said they had hired a company to verify the logo uniqueness and avoid any issue.

hansdotter-fastighetsagarnas-logos
Left: Fastighetsagarnas’s logo Right: Hansdotter’s logo | Montage

According to Resume, the club has invested SEK 1 million (US$107,000) for the redesign. The marketing agency Sould, which created the logo, worked on it since the summer 2021. They took over a new agency as the club wanted a new start on the work, the company explained.

To make things worse, Frölunda HC board members on Thursday started to receive threatening phone calls, emails and text messages.

It all led to an “unsustainable situation” for the organized, which called a press conference to clarify everything and announce they decided to withdraw the new logo.

Our assessment is that the Indian logo will live for another six months” said Frölunda’s chairman Mats Grauers. “We will then start a new work. It will look different. And we will do it along with members and supporters of the club.”

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