One day before Sweden plays its second game of the the 2019 Women’s World Cup, a statue of defender Nilla Fischer was found toppled in Linköping on Saturday morning. According to local media reports, the body of the statue had been knocked off the base.
Given Fischer’s outspoken nature on women’s rights and gay rights, her teammates see the vandalism as a thinly veiled shot at her calls for equality.
Prior to the World Cup, Coca-Cola and the Swedish Football Association partnered to unveil statues of four of the country’s biggest stars in hopes of giving the women’s team more visibility. In addition to Fischer, Kosovare Asllani, Hedvig Lindahl and Caroline Seger were also honored with statues.
Fischer is one of the longest-tenured players on the national team with appearances dating back to 2001. She is certainly among the most visible players on the team, as well, having scored three goals when Sweden hosted the 2013 UEFA Women's European championship.
Later that year, Fischer married her girlfriend and was named LGBTQ Person of the Year in Sweden in 2014. She has also been among the most vocal players in the discussion over the gender pay gap in soccer.
“It illustrates very much how this initiative was completely right,” Seger said on Saturday, via Reuters. “It’s an issue that becomes even more important and there is a need to lift all the questions around equality even more.”
After beating Chile 2-0 in their opening game, Sweden will face Thailand on Sunday before wrapping up the group stage against the United States on Thursday. Sweden notably tied the U.S. in the group stage of the 2015 World Cup and beat the Americans in the quarterfinals of the 2016 Olympics.
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