LUNCHEON MEETING 27 JUNE, 2002
"World Cup and the Future of Football in Finland"
Pekka Hämäläinen, President,
Teuvo Holopainen, General Secretary
Football Association of Finland
Mr. Hämäläinen started his presentation by giving a historic background to football. It has its roots in England were it has been played for many, many centuries. In the 14th century it was even forbidden, and had to be played in secret, e.g. in graveyards.|
Modern soccer dates back to 1867 when the first rules were created in England and the difference between soccer and rugby was established. Then also the oldest football association was established, the English FA. Football was then spread around the world, often by British sailors. (no wonder the name of the English World Cup team's goalkeeper is Seaman, commented Mr. Varhama).
The international federation, FIFA was founded in 1904 and celebrates thus its 100th anniversary in two years time. The first World Cup was played in Uruguay in 1930 with 13 teams participating. Finland has never participated in the World Cup finals, although in they could have in the first tournament, because then all countries were invited without qualification. But at that time Finland could not afford.
Today FIFA has 204 member countries, more than e.g. the UN. 240 million play football regularily, including officials, referees and other supporting staff (like parents) it is estimated that 350-400 million people is involved in soccer.
It is also the most popular sport what comes to spectators, more popular than the Olympics. At the World Cup in France 4 years ago 33 billion people watched games on TV, which means that every person on earth on average watched 5 games.
As for the Korea/Japan World Cup, Mr. Hämäläinen noted that they have been extremely well organized and security issues very well taken care of.
Japan and Finland have never played against each other on men's level. Women played in 1989 when Finland won 1-0. In 1990 the under-21 teams played a 0-0 draw and in 1991 the Japanese under 20 team, which included many of Japan's present World Cup team, beat Finland 4-0.
Mr. Hämäläinen expressed his hope that one day Finland and Japan could also meet on the highest level.
Mr. Holopainen mentioned in his presentation that the Football Association of Finland (FAF) was founded already in 1907 (before Finland's independence!) and has today more than 1,000 teams as its members. There are 100,000 licensed players in Finland, which makes it the biggest sport in the country. The FAF has an annual budget of about 10 mill. euro and employs 35 people.
FAF has declared the first decade of this century as the decade for big international tournmaments in Finland. Already Finland has held the European boys under 19 torumanet and next year the FIFA boys under 17 will be held, with 16 countries participating.
The biggest challenge, however, is the joint Nordic bid for the EURO 2008 tournament. There are 6 candidates for this event, selection will be made in December. The theme for this bid is "United Smile". If awarded, the tournament would be played in 7 cities in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark. Finnish cities selected are Helsinki (Olympic Stadium) and Tampere (Ratina Stadium). The draw for the final tournament, if this bid wins, would be held in Rovaniemi.
IMAGES FROM THE MEETING