Football in Finland

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Football in Finland, unlike in most European countries, is not the most popular spectator sport, as it falls behind ice hockey, which enjoys a huge amount of popularity in the country.[1] Football tops ice hockey in the number of registered players (115,000 vs. 60,000[2][3]) and as a popular hobby (160,000 vs. 90,000 in adults and 230,000 vs. 105, 000 in youth[4][5]). It is the most popular hobby among 3-18-year olds, whereas ice hockey is 9th.[5] Football's standing is constantly increasing, especially among girls and women, where the yearly growth rate has lately been over 10 percent.[6] In season 2006–07 19.9 percent of registered players were female.[6] The Football Association of Finland (Palloliitto) has approximately a thousand clubs as its members.[2] According to a Gallup poll, nearly 400,000 people include football in their hobbies.[4][5]

History[edit]

Football was first brought to Finland in the 1890s by English sailors, and it was first played in Turku. The first national competition in the sport was set up in 1906, and won by a school team from Turku. The Football Association of Finland was founded in 1907, and it joined FIFA the following year. Due to the sport's historically low status in Finland, the country has never really excelled in football. Only since the 1980s, due to the revival of Finnish football, has the country produced such international stars as Jari Litmanen, Antti Niemi, Sami Hyypiä, Mikael Forssell, Mixu Paatelainen, Teemu Tainio and Jussi Jääskeläinen.

Domestic club competitions[edit]

Finnish football
2013

Veikkausliiga (Tier 1)
Ykkönen (Tier 2)
Kakkonen (Tier 3)
Kolmonen (Tier 4)
Nelonen (Tier 5)
Vitonen (Tier 6)
Kutonen (Tier 7)
Seiska (Tier 8)
Suomen Cup 2013

The highest division in Finnish football is the Finnish Premier Division, or Veikkausliiga, comprising 12 professional football teams. Below that is a league system maintained by the Finnish Football Association, with Ykkönen, or First Division, as the second highest division, with 10 teams. Beneath Ykkönen, each division is divided into 'groups' based on the location of the clubs. For instance, the Second Division, or Kakkonen, has 40 teams divided into four regional groups, each of 10 teams.

The Finnish Cup is Finland's national cup competition, open to all member clubs of the Finnish Football Association. In the 2009 season, 356 clubs signed up to take part in the competition.[7]

All Finnish domestic football competitions take place in the spring, summer and autumn, due to weather conditions. Similar systems are used in the other Nordic countries as well.

National team[edit]

The Finland national team played its first international match in 1911 against Sweden. Finland was still then a Grand Duchy part of Russian Empire, and became independent in 1917. Finland have played in a few Olympic Games, finishing fourth in 1912, but have so far never qualified for the FIFA World Cup or the European Championship.

The Football Association of Finland also organizes national under-19 and under-21 teams.

The Finland women's national football team made their competitive debut in the 1984 European Competition for Women's Football qualification.[8] To date, their most successful competition has been UEFA Women's Euro 2005, where they reached the semi-finals stage.[8]

Åland Islands[edit]

Main article: Football in Åland

Since 1943 the Åland Football Association (ÅFA) has organized football in the Åland Islands. The ÅFA is an district association of the Football Association of Finland, however the Åland Islands fields independent men's and women's national teams, principally competing in the Island Games.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lajeja paikan päällä vähintään kerran vuodessa seuraavien määrä lajeittain 19-65-vuotiaiden keskuudessa". Kansallinen liikuntatutkimus 2005-2006. Ministry of Education. 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Suomen Palloliitto". Football Association of Finland. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  3. ^ "Info". Finnish Ice Hockey Association. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "Urheilulajien harrastajamäärät 19-65-vuotiaiden keskuudessa". Kansallinen liikuntatutkimus 2005-2006. Ministry of Education. 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c "Urheilulajien harrastajamäärät 8-13-vuotiaiden keskuudessa". Kansallinen liikuntatutkimus 2005-2006. Ministry of Education. 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "Jalkapallo kasvussa Suomessa ja maailmalla". refers to FIFA Big Count 2006. Football Association of Finland. 2007-06-19. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  7. ^ "Participants". Finnish Cup 2009. Football Association of Finland. 2009. Retrieved 13 February 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ a b http://www.uefa.com/teamsandplayers/teams/teama/team=500042/profile/history/index.html

External links[edit]