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12.14.09

How Sweden Is Covering Tiger and Elin

How is the media in Elin's home country covering the Tiger Woods scandal? By calling for its native daughter to “swing it again.” Katarina Andersson on why the sex scandal is enraging the Swedes.

Even in Sweden, a country known for its liberal views on sex, the Tiger Woods scandal is generating an enormous amount of attention. Swedes, of course, have their own player in the drama: the beautiful, Greta Garbo-cool, Stockholm-born Elin Nordegren, Woods' wronged wife. The outpouring of Elin support in the Swedish media has been massive, with Swedes rallying behind their girl just as loudly as they'd cheer for the national soccer team in a World Championship match.

One Swedish journalist says, “We’re hoping Elin will file for divorce and show Tiger—and the world—what Swedish women stand for.”

“Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Jan Helin, editor in chief of Aftonbladet, the country's biggest newspaper, on his personal blog. One of the paper's top reporters, Ann Söderlund, proclaimed, “Thank God for girls like Elin. Next time, I hope she uses a bigger club."

Britta Svensson, a well-known columnist at the tabloid Expressen and a former U.S.-based correspondent, commented, “Our Swedish hearts are overwhelmed with pride, because our very own Elin didn’t take any s—. Just like a tough Swedish girl shouldn't. Elin is our heroine.”

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There's been an equal torrent of anger toward Tiger himself. Lasse Anrell, a star columnist at Aftonbladet, says that Tiger should at least be man enough to use the correct words for what he's done. “'Transgressions', 'infidelity' and 'hiatus' are not good enough,” wrote Anrell. “I have a suggestion for him. Here's a word that he should add to his vocabulary: 'sex addict.' That's S-E-X-A-D-D-I-C-T, Tiger." Anrell went on to advise Woods to get a copy of Woman of a Casanova, a recently published Swedish book about sex addiction, suggesting that perhaps his mother-in-law could read it out loud to him.

Full coverage of the Tiger Woods scandal Considering that Sweden is a peaceful country—it has been more than 200 years since the nation has been involved in a war—this sudden support for domestic violence comes off as a bit odd. Then again, the culture of child-rearing in Sweden makes sure that girls have a strong sense of self. "Swedish women like Elin are brought up to be independent and strong,” explains Karin Magnusson, the op-ed editor for Aftonbladet, "and you can only stand for just so much humiliation. We're excited about this. We're hoping Elin will file for divorce and show Tiger—and the world—what Swedish women stand for."

Commentators also think that the fact that Tiger has reportedly increased the payout in his prenup, offering Elin millions more if she stays with him for two more years, is thoroughly repugnant. In Sweden, when a couple divorce, things are split 50-50—prenups and divorce lawyers are almost unheard of. "We don't connect love with money," says columnist Britta Svensson. "The new prenup agreement makes Tiger come off as a fake person, almost mean. Does he really think she'd stay because he is showing her the money?"

Whether or not Elin Nordegren is going to ditch her husband remains to be seen. There are rumors that Elin has already taken off her wedding band and might be on her way to Sweden right now. Or maybe she’s already there. A private plane, co-owned by Woods' company ETW, was spotted landing at a small Swedish airport this morning, the pilot explaining that he was there for some kind of “pick up” later this week. Swedish media also reported that the lights were on in the Woods’ family apartment in Stockholm late last night.

What the Swedes definitely don't want is for Elin to revert to celebrity martyr behavior like Posh Spice did when she and Becks were having problems or as they feel Hillary Clinton did when she chose to stand by her man.

"It would be very surprising if Elin decided to stay with Tiger in the current situation," says Karin Magnusson, "or to do something like grant an interview to Oprah. If that winds up being the case, she has become too American."

Katarina Andersson is a New York-based freelance reporter for Swedish Broadcasting. She previously hosted a popular radio talk show in Sweden and covered politics, economy, and arts for numerous Scandinavian media outlets in the U.S. She lives in Brooklyn with her son.