The Sweden men's soccer team lost a disappointing Euro 2012 game against Ukraine on Monday and— after some critics back home made the team the butt of jokes— some of the players used one of their own bare backsides for target practice.
After Tuesday's practice session for players who were not involved in the team's loss against Ukraine, a group of players stood in a circle playing a game of keeping the ball in the air. Backup goaltender Johan Wiland lost— and as punishment— had to walk to a nearby wall, pull down his shorts and point his bottom towards his teammates. They each took turns aiming balls at him from about 20 yards away.
Now a Swedish anti-bullying group is up in arms about the bad example it sets for children.
Team members now have to respond to criticism in Sweden from Friends— a group that sponsors the team's national stadium in Stockholm— for using Wiland's bare backside for a bulls eye after a video of the private training session was published by the Swedish newspaper Expressen.
Friends general secretary, Lars Arrhenius, told Expressen the players were being "incredibly bad role models."
Several of the Swedish players said the whole thing is being blown out of proportion.
"It's just a game," said midfielder Pontus Wembloom. "It's not bullying if everyone wants to take part."
Defender Martin Olsson said the team often plays such games during training and he has been used as a target as well.
Wembloom cited an online campaign— that made fun of Sweden's Mikael Lustig's blown defense for the 2-1 loss— on social media networks called "Hold a Post," where fans posted photos of themselves holding on to lamp posts, light poles or any other poles.
"I think that's bullying," Wembloom said. "But Lustig takes it coolly and is just laughing about it."