What Is Bandy? This. Is. Bandy
December 15, 2018
Have you ever imagined playing football on an ice rink? Well, this picture no longer needs to be a figment of your imagination. The sport already exists. It’s called Bandy.
The idea may seem a little bizarre but bear with us, the sport is incredibly fun to watch, and its popularity may surprise you. Officially, bandy is the second-most popular winter sport in the world, in terms of both participation and tickets sold at the sport’s Championship. Just behind ice-hockey, but still ahead of skiing, snowboarding and ice-skating, bandy is the winter phenomenon that you never knew about.
Its origination is heavily disputed, but given its extreme concept, we are inclined to side with the Russians who take credit in being in the initial creators of the sport. Despite this, bandy has been around since the late 19th century and following the establishment of the first national bandy league in 1902, its following has simply snowballed. Or should we say iceballed?
Ice-hockey is hugely popular in America/Canada and of course, football is Europe’s number one sport. Combining the two together holds the potential to unify all the nations together to create a sport that gets everybody involved. This element of combination was partly the thinking behind the sport’s foundation, but perhaps now is finally the time for the sport to escalate into the mainstream media.
What is bandy?
Played on an ice rink, measured at 110m by 65m, the playing facility is nearly as large as a football field. Also, with field hockey sized goals and ice skates on the player’s feet, it isn’t a mystery to see where the link between football/ice-hockey and bandy comes from. Each player is given a non-curved stick and the game is played with a small circular ball.
Stepping onto the rink, each team must field a starting team of eleven, with five players on the bench. At any given time of the game, there must be a minimum of 8 players on the ice at a time. Exactly like football, there are two halves of 45 minutes, although in certain weather conditions, the referee can opt to play 3 x 30-minute periods.
The aim of the game is simple – try and outscore your opponent! There’s nothing complex about the scoring system, simply hit the back of the net for a single point. The gameplay, therefore, is reminiscent to ice-hockey, except goalkeepers are not allowed a stick. Instead, they are padded up to the max and have to try to prevent the opposition with their hands. (Don’t worry, they wear really thick gloves!)
Some fans may be disappointed to hear about the tackling rules of the game. Unlike the brute fights and grappling that we associate with the winter sport of ice-hockey, bandy is very strict with regards to forceful contact.
In a nutshell, it is not allowed. Tackling can only occur through dispossession and should a foul take place, a free stroke is given against the offending team. Here are some of the disciplinary actions that can take place during bandy:
- Yellow card = Warning
- Blue card = 5 or 10 minute penalty
- Red card = Ejected from the game
If, after 90 minutes the game is a tie, extra time of two ten minutes periods will be played to determine the winner. In certain games, the golden goal rule or a penalty shoot-out will be applied.
With regards to general gameplay, the ball can leave the field of play. When this occurs, play will be stopped and then restarted. Here are some of the methods that can happen with a restart:
- Free stroke = Free hit of the ball
- Corner stroke = Usually deployed by teams in an attacking manner and the opposition will occupy their goal line
- Penalty shot
Where Is It Played?
Currently, in the Bandy World Championship, there are 21 different countries in the tournament’s leaderboard rankings. Due to the relatively small number of participating countries, any nation that can form a team is welcome to play. For a long period of time, there were only four countries that competed in the Championship – Sweden, Finland, Norway and the Soviet Union. Unsurprisingly, this is where bandy’s mass popularity stems from and currently exists today.
In terms of the Olympics, Bandy has made some significant progress for competing, but the sport is yet to be played at the games. It is continuously pushed by committees and those affiliated with the sport, but there still remains a gap between ‘popularity and participation.’ We know officially that Bandy will not feature in the 2022 winter games in China, despite the Federation of International Bandy (FIB) making noise for the sport.
It will, however, appear at the 2019 Winter Universiade in Russia, with teams from the hosts, Sweden, Finland, China, Norway and Kazakhstan all participating. Hopefully, this stage will help spread awareness about the sport and although the games don’t possess the same pedigree of the Olympics, it is a step in the right direction.
Alongside nations competing, there is also an annual World Cup held in Sweden between the elite Bandy clubs. These clubs are from around the world, but typically, the ruling clubs have historically been from either Russia or Sweden. In fact, since the competition was established in 1974, Finland are the only other nation to win the competition (discounting the Soviet Union), and check this goal they scored over the Swedes back in 2008…
Where Can I Bet on Bandy?
The sport continues to grab attention from sporting fans in Europe and all those from across the Atlantic. With the attention also comes an increase in punters, who enjoy joining in with the action on the ice. Join the band (couldn’t resist!) and check out all the latest bandy betting odds.
As an experienced sports writer, Josh has been published across various different platforms, writing about his beloved club Manchester United and other footballing topics. He also covers a range of other sports, specialising in UFC and Formula One.