US soccer coach more red star than spangled banner

A story reaches me from the excellent Swedish journalist Mattias Göransson, editor of Filter magazine, about his feisty compatriot Pia Sundhage.

On Thursday Sundhage coached the US women’s soccer team to gold against Japan at a packed Wembley stadium. What’s interesting is what comes next.

After the US team won gold at the last Olympics, in Beijing in 2008, Sundhage refused to join her players in meeting President George Bush in the White House. At the time, the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet reminded its readers of what Sundhage had said when she got the US job in 2007: “It’s a bit special for an old communist like me to go to the US.”

This time, if Sundhage is consistent she won’t be going to meet President Obama either. In fact her next official appearance is already in the diary. On September 1 she will be in Gothenburg to play guitar and sing at Proletären FF soccer club’s fortieth anniversary party. Yes, Proletären means The Proletariat, and here’s club shield (with anniversary dates added):

Proletärens FF is related to Sweden’s Communist Party, and is currently third in the seventh division of the Swedish football league.

Music-lovers of all political persuasions should try to attend the club’s anniversary, because Sundhage is a noted singer. She often uses her soothing voice to relax her players, and during last year’s world cup in Germany she got an ovation at a press conference after breaking into a verse from Simon & Garfunkel’s Feelin’ Groovy:

Slow down, you move too fast,

You’ve got to make the morning last.

Just kickin’ down the cobblestones,

Lookin’ for fun and feelin’ groovy.