2009 Malmö anti-Israel riots

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2009 Malmö riot
Mercedes sprint-polisbuss.JPG
Police vans monitoring a section of the wider protests.
LocationMalmö, Sweden
Date7 March 2009
Attack type
Weaponsstones, fireworks, paint bombs
Perpetrators100 detained, 10 arrested, 18 put on trial
No. of participants
Directly involved: 200–300
Protesters: 6,000–7,000
DefendersMalmö police department
Danish riot vehicle support

The 2009 Malmö Davis Cup riots were anti-Israel riots in the Swedish city of Malmö against a Davis Cup tennis match between Sweden and Israel on 7 March 2009.[1][2]


In February, the tennis match had been decided by Malmö's red-green city coalition to be closed to the public, a decision that was heavily criticised by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).[1][3][4] The Mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu personally said he thought the game should not be played at all, and the decision was thus considered to be more politically motivated than out of security concerns.[2][5]


In anticipation of protests around 1,000 police officers sanctioned off a large area around the Baltic Hall tennis stadium to keep protesters and rioters away.[1] A reported 170 truck loads of pavement stones were transported out of the area before the protests, and three schools were closed.[6] In addition, for the first time in history, riot vehicles were brought in from Denmark.[2][7]

The match was initially met with protest of around 6,000 to 7,000 anti-Israel demonstrators, with speeches held by the leader of the Left Party, Lars Ohly, who while wearing a Palestinian scarf was seen holding a map of Palestine with Israel eradicated.[8][9] The demonstrators were joined by several hundred militants of which around 200 to 300 began attacking police with stones, fireworks and paint bombs.[1][2][10] The anti-Israel rioters included AFA anti-fascists, militant Islamists, organised neo-Nazis,[11][12][13][14] as well as activists from neighbouring countries.[15][16] Police eventually detained around 100 rioters, arresting ten.[17] An additional eighteen rioters were later identified and put on trial for their part in the riots,[18] with several convictions.[19][20][21][22]


The decision to close the tennis match to the public resulted in Malmö being banned from hosting tennis matches by the ITF for five years.[23] In addition to having to provide $15,000 in minimum gate receipts for the match, the Swedish Tennis Association was fined an additional $25,000.[23] The Swedish Tennis Association responded by issuing penalties to Malmö mayor Ilmar Reepalu for his involvement in the event.[24]

The protest and riots led to accusations of antisemitism in Sweden.[25][26]

Swedish history professor Kristian Gerner described the situation as "the worst crisis for Jews in Sweden since the Second World War."[7]

A 2012 European Men's Handball Championship qualifier between Sweden and Israel set to be played in Karlskrona in June 2011 raised concerns due to the riots, and was considered to be moved to another location by Swedish sports authorities.[27][28] The match was played as scheduled, with a minor anti-Israel demonstration being held.[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Anti-Israel protest staged at Sweden tennis match". Reuters. 7 March 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d "Anti-Israel protest turns violent". Al Jazeera. 7 March 2009.
  3. ^ "Sweden-Israel Davis Cup to go ahead without public". The New York Times. 24 February 2009.
  4. ^ Gibson, Owen (28 February 2009). "Fans banned from Israel's Davis cup tie". The Guardian.
  5. ^ "Davis Cup Double Fault: Israel-Sweden Fan Lockout Stirs Controversy". Der Spiegel. 6 March 2009.
  6. ^ Rothenborg, Ole (4 March 2009). "Stenhögar kan stoppa polisinsatsen". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish).
  7. ^ a b Lund, Jacob (7 March 2009). "Frykter sammenstøt i Sverige". Verdens Gang (in Norwegian).
  8. ^ Karlsson, Karl-Johan (27 February 2010). "Här raderar Lars Ohly Israel". Expressen (in Swedish).
  9. ^ "Demonstranterna till attack mot polisen i Malmö" (in Swedish). Expressen/TT. 7 March 2009.
  10. ^ Stokka, Pål (7 March 2009). "Anti-israelsk demonstrasjon sporet av i Malmø". Dagbladet (in Norwegian).
  11. ^ Hjertén, Linda; Ohlsson, Per-Ola (7 March 2009). "100 omhändertagna efter demonstrationen". Aftonbladet (in Swedish).
  12. ^ "Godmorgon, världen!: Söndag 8 mars" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio. 6 March 2009.
  13. ^ Nilsson, David Nannini (5 March 2009). "Nazister väntas till tennismatch". Aftonbladet (in Swedish).
  14. ^ Poohl, Daniel (5 March 2009). "Nazister i demonstration mot Davis Cup-match" (in Swedish). Expo.
  15. ^ Lööf, Richard (6 March 2009). "SVT:s Richard Lööf rapporterar: "Malmö sämsta tänkbara för högriskmatch"" (in Swedish). SVT.
  16. ^ Habul, Kenan (7 March 2009). "De vill göra allt för att stoppa matchen". Sydsvenskan (in Swedish).
  17. ^ "Swedish teen jailed for Davis Cup protest". JTA. 29 April 2009.
  18. ^ "Polis angreps av autonoma aktivister vid Davis Cup-match" (in Swedish). Swedish Security Service. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  19. ^ Persson, Daniel (29 April 2009). "Fängelse för tenniskravaller". Sydsvenskan (in Swedish).
  20. ^ "Fortsatt rättegång om tennisbråk" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan/TT. 2 June 2009.
  21. ^ Funke, Mikael (25 February 2010). "Fängelse efter tenniskravaller". Sydsvenskan (in Swedish).
  22. ^ Palmkvist, Joakim (10 September 2010). "Tre tonåringar dömda för Davis Cup-kravaller" (in Swedish).
  23. ^ a b "Sweden punished for Israel Davis Cup lockout". The Telegraph. 2 April 2009.
  24. ^ Moreno, Federico (21 April 2010). "Tennisförbundet skickar ny nota till Reepalu". Sydsvenskan (in Swedish).
  25. ^ "Sverige anklagas för antisemitism" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan/TT. 9 March 2009.
  26. ^ Ekström, Anna (14 March 2009). ""Politiker måste agera mot antisemitism"" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan.
  27. ^ "Oro i Karlskrona för nya kravaller" (in Swedish). Aftonbladet/TT.
  28. ^ "Politiker rädda för Israelkravaller" (in Swedish). Sydsvenskan/TT. 21 April 2010.
  29. ^ "Sweden-Israel Handball Game Sparks anti-Israel Protests". The Associated Press and Anna Ekström. Haaretz. 13 June 2011.