HIFK Soccer

HIFK are kind of unique in Finland. A lot of Finnish sports organisations were originally established as multi-sport clubs, but many of them have over the years narrowed their focus and ended up specialising in one or two sports. HJK split from their hockey division in1972, for instance, and now Helsingin Jääkiekkoklubi play hockey and bandy as a separate entity.

HIFK, on the other hand, play everything from handball to bandy to football to hockey to salibandy. They are very much in the tradition of the European athletics associations, and remind me of the turn vereins that established organised sport in late 19th century Germany.

HIFK’s football division have had a bit of a time of it since they finished second in the championship and lost to Rosenborg in the UEFA Cup. They’ve won seven championships, just two fewer than FC Haka, who come close to qualifying for ‘powerhouse’ status.

Unfortunately, their strong tradition did not prevent them from succumbing to bankruptcy in 2003. They started again (changing names from FC HIFK to HIFK Soccer), and began to work their way up from the fourth division. They got promotion in 2005, and again this year, so next season they will play in Kakkonen, just two promotions from the top flight.

They have big financial backers, and chairman Gary Sundberg says that ‘2-3 years is the absolute maximum time we can spend in Kakkonen’.

This is great news, as Finnish football needs excitement and HIFK are a big club with very passionate fans. The Stadin Kingit group do tifos for hockey, bandy, handboll and even fourth divison football. That’s the fifth tier, and a lot closer to pub teams than the top flight – nobody has fans at that level.

Here’s a picture of their trip to Tornio to support the HIFK bandy team:

Again, I think fan groups are a rarity at bandy matches. It’s quite likely fans of any description are a rarity at bandy matches – I checked the bandy league’s website for fixtures in the upcoming season (usually starting in late November), and it promises that ‘fixtures will be available before the start of the season’. Which is reassuring, it’d be a bit confusing if teams just picked random clubs to play against.

The football club had a tremendous season, which included a cup run in which they fought valiantly but went out to Inter in the 7th round. Here’s a youtube video of the HIFK fans who made the trip to Turku, a taster of what they would bring to Veikkausliiga. For non-Finns: this is really quite rare in Finland.

Here’s a picture of the HIFK fans at a normal league game, away at Futara of Porvoo. Best of luck to HIFK for next season, we could do with a lot more of this kind of thing in Ykkönen and Veikkausliiga.

5 Responses

  1. It would be interesting to see how it would work out if HIFK got to the Veikkausliiga. 20 (or more?) supporters and hundreds of cops and stewards to make sure nothing is brought to the stadium?

    Funny thing is that Helsingin Sanomat once wrote that smokes and that sort of stuff doesn’t belong to the football games but it’s totally different in Bandy (or hockey). Jokerit actually have had stuff in their hockey games and that’s ok too. In football it’s totally different.

    If things weren’t so serious maybe that would bring more people to Veikkausliiga games? Anyway I really can’t comment on others because I myself haven’t seen so many games. :/

  2. Well, there are plenty of ways tifos can be organised if you have enough people. Look at the Stockholm clubs.

    And then there is the question of how strictly the rules are followed. There have been flares and smoke bombs at Veikkausliiga games, and clubs have been fined for the actions of their supporters – I think TPS got a fine this year.

    But sometimes fines don’t happen, like when Tampere United played Honka away last year. There were flares, and smoke bombs after the third goal, but no sanction for the club.

    It may have had something to do with YLE using footage of the flares to publicise Veikkausliiga games for the rest of the season, as it looked really cool.

    I guess it would depend on the sort of crowds HIFK got. If they could guarantee numbers for decent displays and noise for most games, with a few pyrotechnics at the big matches, that’d be a formula that would work very well in my opinion. I don’t know, but I think Stadin Kingit would enjoy the challenge.

  3. There were no flares in at the Honka vs. TamU match last year. Just blue smoke. And that happened during the player intros, not after the third goal.

  4. My mistake. Still not allowed in the ground though, and still no fines from Veikkausliiga.

  5. […] HIFK sound like the Finnish version of Leeds United (Football in Finland) […]

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