Swedish stars voice support for shooting victims. The tragic murder of 20 school children in Newtown, CT hit especially close to home for players of the Bridgeport Sound Tiger. The Tigers are the American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL’s New York Islanders, including five Swedes. Bridgeport is just 12 miles from Newtown and its schools play those of Newtown in high school athletics.
The Sound Tigers took to Twitter to try to make some sense of the attack, in which four school officials, the alleged shooter’s mother and the alleged shooter also died.
“Sick to my stomach after seeing the news, thoughts and prayers go to families and kids that has been affected by this tragedy. So sad,” tweeted forward David Ullstrom, who is a native of Jonkoping, Sweden.
Johan Persson, a native of Ostersund, was just as upset.
“Thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who've been affected by the tragedy in Newtown, CT,” the left wing posted on Twitter.
Newtown is a bedroom community of New York and the impact of the school shooting also shook a pair of Swedes that play for the New York Rangers. Wildly popular goaltender Henrik Lundqvist echoed the thoughts of many when he tweeted, “The tragedy in Newtown makes me feel sick to my stomach. Thoughts go out to all the families impacted by this.”
Rangers forward Carl Hagelin also caught the emotions of many in the wake of the tragedy. “Thoughts and prayers go out to all the victims and families in Connecticut,” he posted on Twitter. “Can't believe someone would ever do that.“
Sebastian Stalberg, a former University of Vermont star who now plays for the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, knows the Bridgeport-Newtown area and made his sentiments known in a short message on Twitter.
“It's been too many tragedies involving shooting of innocent, it's sickening. #thoughtsandprayers.”

Anti-gay slurs cost team
The management board of an amateur soccer club in Sweden suspended its entire team for one year after players allegedly hurled homophobic remarks at opponents during a match.
Sörskogen team chairman Ketil Torp said the players denied making such remarks to the Stockholm Snipers, a team that prides itself for having members of different sexual orientations. He also said the match referee didn't hear the remarks.
Torp said the accusations were "so severe" the club board ordered the players to appear before it after the match. The players refused to do so and received a $758 fine from the local soccer association. The players had previously been penalized for rude remarks and violence.
According to the gay/lesbian website Queerty, the incident occurred in October during a match between Sörskogens and the Snipers, a team that actively welcomes LGBT players. During the game, Sörskogens players hurled insults including “all of you have HIV” and “we’re probably going to get infected.”
"It was a little unpleasant when we went into the dressing room after the game. One of our players was also threatened after things got a little heated on the pitch," Snipers coach Christoffer Smitz said.
On its website, the club said it has received overwhelming support for the decision.
In 2011, midfielder Anton Hysén came out as Sweden's first openly gay male soccer player—only the second high-level professional player in the world to do so, according to the Guardian. (In 1990 Justin Fashanu came out. The soccer community shunned him and he committed suicide eight years later.)
In an email to The Huffington Post, Hysén called the Sörskogens players' comments "obviously immature" and "clueless."
Though he said anti-gay sentiment isn't that prevalent in soccer, he noted that there's always room for improvement.
"It's idiotic to act like that," he said.


French succumb to Zlatan fever
First it was Jerry Lewis. Now, the French can’t seem to get enough of its newest imported star, Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The Swede is a comic book superhero come to life, a genuine martial artist with oversized features and an ego to match. He doesn’t pile on the goals the way Barcelona star Leonel Messi does, but those he does score can be spectacular—none more so than his audacious 30-yard bicycle kick against England last month.
Months into his first season in France, the 31-year-old striker has already made a massive impact. When he moved from AC Milan to Paris Saint-Germain last July on a $25 million transfer, he was merely the latest megastar on a club loaded with high-priced talent. Though second-place PSG hasn’t been as dominant as expected, Ibrahimovic has come through with a league-best 17 goals—more than half the club’s 17-game Ligue 1 total.
“I don’t know a lot about French players,” Ibrahimovic said when he joined PSG. “For sure, they know who I am.”
The French don’t seem to know what to make of Ibrahimovic. Some have howled in outrage at his salary—reported to be as much as $18 million after taxes, in a country in the midst of an economic crisis. But for fans and critics alike, he’s irresistible.
A website, zlatanfacts.fr, has sprouted up to catalog amazing untruths about the man. (“Lance Armstrong never dared inject himself with the blood of Zlatan. His body couldn’t have coped with it.”)
Some actual Zlatan facts are crazy enough:
Last season ended Ibrahimovic’s streak of eight league titles in eight years at five clubs (Ajax, Juventus, Inter Milan, Barcelona and AC Milan), never mind that Juventus was later stripped of the two championships he won there.
His autobiography, “I Am Zlatan,” has sold more than 500,000 copies in his native Sweden, a nation of 9 million.
At AC Milan, he had what he called a “life and death” fight with 6-foot-4-inch U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu, who left him with a broken rib. The thing is, they were teammates at the time.
It’s fitting that one French television show plays the Darth Vader theme whenever it reports on Ibrahimovic.
On the country’s popular satirical comedy show Les Guignols de l’info (The News Puppets), Ibrahimovic has his own latex look-alike—one who eats horse heads and speaks of himself only in the third person. In one sketch, the puppet introduced a cologne, Eau de Zlatan, “made from concentrated Zlatan sweat.” If you “zlatan yourself” with the fragrance, “everyone will respect you. You’ll no longer need to queue at the post office.”
In 2003, early in his pro career, Ibrahimovic trademarked “Zlatan” and “Zlatan Ibrahimovic.” Now his first name has become a French verb: “zlataner,” to overpower or subdue. “Les Verts Zlatanent Paris” read the headline in the sports daily L’Equipe when Saint-Etienne—known as “les Verts,” or the Greens—defeated PSG last month.
Less than two weeks later, England got zlataned in Stockholm. Ibrahimovic scored all four goals in Sweden’s 4-0 exhibition rout, and the last was the most talked-about soccer moment of the year. Showing off his skills as a taekwondo black belt, Ibrahimovic rose with his back to the goal and struck an overhead shot that looped in the net.
“Zlatan against children” is how Swedish teammate Tobias Sana summed up the evening.
Ibrahimovic had often been reminded of his poor goal-scoring record against English opposition, prompting him to warn in 2010, “Wait and see. I will show you.” For Zlatan the tornado, retribution—like everything else about the man—came in a Category 5 package.