The last week of April and beginning of May was anything but fun for two of Sweden’s most famous clubs as scandal and sorrow rocked both Djurgården and AIK to their core.
Djurgården lost its manager and sporting director April 26 after fans threatened head coach Magnus Pehrsson with “dire consequences” following a winless start to the season that has set new levels for futility for the Stockholm club. Pehrson and sporting director Tommy Jacobsson both resigned.
On May 2, officials at AIK awoke to the stunning news that 32-year-old goalkeeper Ivan Turina had died at home overnight.
“It is a difficult time right now for Swedish football,” said Svenska Fotbollsförbundet director Lars-Christer Olsson. “Our hearts go out to AIK and to Ivan’s family.”
"It is with great sorrow and shock that we can confirm that goalkeeper Ivan Turina passed away on the night between Wednesday and Thursday," the club said in a statement. "Ivan died suddenly in his sleep and at the moment no crime is suspected."
Turina, who was from Croatia and the father of 1-year-old twins, had a congenital heart problem which he told the club about when he signed in 2010. "We knew that he had a congenital heart problem but he was completely healthy," AIK chairman Johan Segui said.
Striker Henok Goitom, who lived next door to Turina, said the goalkeeper’s family summoned him to Turina’s aid.
"His wife's mother rang hysterically on my doorbell," Goitom told reporters at the team's Karlberg training ground. "Yesterday was an ordinary day. Today, Ivan is dead. It's a shock. The AIK supporters loved him. It's a slap in the face for everyone but we are united as a group and we're trying to help everyone in AIK and his family."
Turina's wife is expecting the couple's third child.
Fans streamed to Karlberg to lay scarves and flowers at an impromptu shrine to the popular keeper, who had recently extended his contract with the club to 2016. Flags at the training ground flew at half-mast as red-eyed players and staff spoke quietly with the assembled media and supporters.
Turina played 89 competitive matches for the club, keeping 35 clean sheets, and he won a single cap for Croatia when he played against Hong Kong in 2006.
Djurgården, meanwhile, was still trying to cope not only with a horrific start to the season but also with a series of fan violence that culminated in the threats against Pehrsson.
DIF has yet to win a league match this season, scoring just twice in six matches. The futility on the field spilled over to the stands as fans twice rioted already this season. The first came before the Djurgården-Helsingborg match, when Djurgården fans attacked a group of Helsingborg supporters. The ensuing melee resulted in 15 arrests.
The second occurrence came during DIF’s home match with Mjällby in Round 3. Fans threw objects on the field after Mjällby took a 1-0 lead early in the game. One of the objects struck a Mjällby player and officials ordered both teams off the field. DIF eventually had to play out the match in an empty stadium and pay a fine to the SvFF.
The final act came April 26 when Pehrsson received death threats.
"The threats were expressed via telephone after the loss to Elfsborg, but also during an unannounced visit during the A team's training session on (April 23)," a club statement said.
"Three people from an unofficial supporters' group expressed their disappointment about the sporting results. At the same time, they pointed out in a threatening manner what consequences continued poor results would have for Magnus personally."
The threats have been reported to the police.
"The way the situation developed after (the) events (on April 22 and 23), my position as manager and as a person was untenable, and I have taken the decision to leave the club," said Pehrsson.
Djurgården Football chairman Tommy Jacobson also resigned.
"Sad is too mild a word—it's tragic that these kinds of forces can have such an influence," he said in a statement. "That Magnus felt he had to resign was the last straw for me. That there are people who totally go against both the club's and society's democratic principles is completely unacceptable for me in my role as chairman. I hope it starts an examination of these supporter circles."
Pehrsson's decision to quit prompted a news conference by Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt who stood on the Djurgården terraces as a teenager.
"It cannot be that nothing happens and they are allowed to continue," Reinfeldt said of the behavior of a minority of troublesome fans. "It is not acceptable that these advocates of violence set the agenda."
Reinfeldt said there were many options open to his government.
"We're often asked for new legislation, but we can make whatever laws we like—if we don't use them, they won't make any difference," he said. "I'd like to point out that it is criminal to threaten others. That must be followed up."
Police said they are confident of identifying the three individuals who allegedly threatened Pehrsson.
"I think we'll get the three names without help from the general public, we have a good starting point," police investigator Ann-Britt Furugård told newspaper Sportbladet.