4 funny times Switzerland was confused with Sweden

4 funny times Switzerland was confused with Sweden

It may seem like a well-used joke, but alongside confusing Austria for Australia and Zurich, Switzerland with Zurich, Kansas, people thinking that the alpine nation is actually Sweden is a very common occurrence. From bodged national anthems to presidential gaffes, here are four funny times Switzerland was confused with Sweden.

1. Joe Biden wants to call Switzerland

In the most recent incident, US president Joe Biden was speaking at a NATO summit in 2022. However, instead of not thinking before speaking like his predecessor - like when he labelled Switzerland a third-world country - the current commander-in-chief is known for his gaffe-prone speaking style, not helped by the fact that he is 80 years old. 

At the summit, the president spoke of how Finnish President Sauli Niinistö had suggested "calling the head of government in Switzerland about her accession aspirations." With Switzerland being hesitant at best to join NATO, and the fact that the Swiss president in 2022 was a man, it was clear something was wrong.

“We call the leader of, uh, of Switzerland. Switzerland! My goodness. I'm getting really anxious here about expanding NATO, of Sweden," he clarified.

2. SC Bern treated to Swedish national anthem

Even in countries close to the alpine nation, many still get Sweden and Switzerland mixed up. Case in point: at a Champions Hockey League match between SC Bern and Grenoble, France in 2019, before the match started the Swedish flag was proudly displayed above the players while the Swedish national anthem blared out from every speaker.

As you can see from the video, it was not long before they realised the mistake, much to the amusement of SC Bern's coach. Bern would go on to win the match 3-1 and qualify for the knockout stages where they would be beaten, ironically, by Swedish side Luleå HF in the round of 16.

3. Swedish striker Xherdan Shaqiri?

Sticking with sport, there was huge fanfare across Swiss cities and cantons when the “Alpine Messi” Xherdan Shaqiri made the switch from Stoke City to Liverpool for 13,5 million British pounds in 2018. Like with any major signing, the club took to Instagram to welcome the forward to the team, but with a Swedish flag emoji.

Luckily, the error was quickly noticed and fixed. With two Champions Leagues, three Bundesliga titles and one Premier League to his name, it's fair to say that Shaqiri probably doesn’t mind. 

4. Spotify welcomed to New York Stock Exchange by Swiss flag

It must be a brilliant feeling as an entrepreneur to see your new business develop into one of the best in the world. That was certainly the case for Swedish music giant Spotify, who managed to get an IPO on the famous New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in 2018.

To welcome the company to Wall Street, the exchange hung up flags and a massive logo in front of the famous facade. Unfortunately, they used the Swiss flag.

Luckily the mistake was quickly spotted and removed. The NYSE also saw the fun side, writing that "we hope everyone enjoyed our fleeting ode to our neutral role in price setting this morning.“

Image: / IU Liquid and water photo

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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