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Monday’s worldwide soccer lineup was distressingly bare: just three friendly matches involving tiny clubs in Sweden. And at the end of the day, only two of them were played. Our interest lies in the one that was canceled.

Nashulta, a team in Division 6, the eighth tier of Swedish soccer, was set to host a Division 5 team, Eskilstuna.

Sweden has taken a different approach to containing the coronavirus than many other countries, including its neighbors. It shut high schools and colleges, but kept open schools for younger students. Restaurants and many other businesses remain open. The top soccer leagues, which had been set to start in about a week, have been postponed, but many smaller teams are playing on, at least with training matches.

Nashulta-Eskilstuna was the kind of match that few would pay any attention to in ordinary times. But with almost nothing else going on in the world of sports, gamblers were very interested in the minor game. Some bookmakers, desperate for anything to take bets on, accepted wagers on the contest.

“Throughout the day yesterday, people called our players, coaches,” the Eskilstuna F.C. chairman, Bengin Ozeran, told a Swedish television reporter. “There were people from all over the world. They said, among other things, ‘hope you lose’ or ‘good luck.’ It was probably a hundred people in an hour. It has been chaos. Yesterday was not a fun day.”

Alarm over the deluge of interest led to the game being canceled.

“We chose to postpone the match because of the players’ safety,” Ozeran said. “You never know.”



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