Stockholm Eagles have fallen into total chaos. Four players and the coach have decided to leave the club. At the beginning of the season the Swedish club already fired the first coach after only five games, and after that players were coming and going as through a revolving door.
After yesterday’s 73-104 loss to city rivals 08 Stockholm coach Marko Simonovic and the players Nikola Ljujic, Marko Ljujic, Nenad Stefanovic and Kocergin Konstantin decided to leave the club.
The above names don’t sound very Swedish, do they? That’s correct. The Stockholm Eagles is actually a Serbian club or better; a club founded by Serbs living in Sweden.
Until last season the club played in the “Basket Ettan”, which is the second highest level in Sweden and they also used their full name; “Stockholm White Eagles”.
The name “White Eagles” refers to the national symbol of Serbia, the double headed white eagle under a crown. Serbian national teams are therefore also often referred to as “the Eagles”.
However, “White Eagles” was the name of a Serb paramilitary group that fought in the Bosnian civil war. Most of the atrocities during that civil war were committed by the different ethnic paramilitary groups, rather than regular army units so to some the name can be controversial.
The Stockholm White Eagles were founded in 2007 and was a success story from the beginning, winning every championship they participated in. Often by 40 or 50 points difference.
They won the “Ettan” both in 2011 and 2012, and decided to move up this year to the “Basketligan” which is the highest level in Sweden. From then on, the official website switched from Serbian to Swedish language and the club started using the shorter name “Stockholm Eagles” (leaving out the word “white”).
The Eagles are sponsored by Serbian entrepreneurs in Sweden and even some from Serbia itself. The Eagles had the highest average attendance during their games, and the club had very big ambitions and dreams that went beyond the Swedish level. The goal of the club was to become the most dominant club in Sweden and also play a significant role in international Basketball. Two seasons ago they were even thinking about skipping the highest level in Sweden and applying to directly join the Baltic League.
Now, that the club finally plays on the highest level in Sweden things don’t go so well. Out of the 6 Serbian players, 3 Montenegrin, 2 Americans and one Turkish/Swedish player only 3 had played for the club during the 2011/2012 season. The other 9 are newcomers. Coach Marko Simonovic was a newcomer as well (joined in October).
The club that had been practically invincible since 2007, now started to lose games. Something that they were not used to so, the club management fired the coach after five games and player were fired, hired, or fined around the clock.
The club is currently 3rd from the bottom in Sweden with a 5-16 record. The departing coach and players complained about chaos in the club, erratic behavior by the management, fines being imposed and salaries not paid (on time).
The President of the club, Goran Popov says: “The only thing that has not been paid are the bonuses. If you don’t do your job, then you can’t expect to get paid extra. The claim that salaries have not been paid is bullshit, as always.”
The new coach is likely to be Stefan Bergman together with ex-assistant Ronnie Christensen. Goran Popov says: “Stefan Bergman has confirmed that he is interested. We want Swedish coaches now.”