As Sweden thumped Mexico 3-0 to top their group and qualify for the World Cup’s knockout stages, Swedes took to social media to celebrate the victory and reject racism.
A last-gasp 2-1 defeat to Germany in their previous fixture had left Sweden’s hopes of progression in doubt.
Winger Jimmy Durmaz, born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey, was racially abused in the aftermath of that game.
But on Wednesday, a hashtag which translates as #WeAreSweden was used thousands of times on Twitter as Swedes celebrated their victory – and rejected the racism which had followed defeat.
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“When you threaten me, when you can call me a terrorist, then you have gone far beyond the border,” Durmaz said in a statement on Sunday.
“I am proud to play in the Swedish national team and I will never let any racists destroy that pride. We must avoid all forms of racism.”
On Wednesday morning, before the Mexico game, Sweden’s sports minister, Annika Strandhall, posted a picture of herself wearing a Sweden shirt bearing Durmaz’s name and number. The image was widely shared and liked across Facebook and Twitter.
Others shared their own messages of support for Durmaz. Social media user Bosse Zakrisson, who had won his shirt after a competition launched by former Tottenham and Sweden defender Erik Edman, also posted a picture of himself wearing Durmaz’s name and number on his back.
“The whole team delivers,” he wrote. “Everyone works together. No-one should be thrown under the bus. Teamwork. Team sports. Go Sweden.”
And that afternoon, as an own goal from Mexico defender Edson Alvarez put Sweden three-up with little more than 15 minutes to play, their fans began to celebrate in earnest.
“Such joy all over Sweden in every house and apartment,” stand-up comedian and TV personality Ozz Nujen wrote. “We lose together and we win together.”
“This one’s for you Jimmy Durmaz,” wrote another.
Sweden’s World Cup continues on Tuesday, when they face Switzerland in the last 16.