I live in the most violent country in Western Europe. Homicides are more common here than anywhere else that wasn’t run by communists until the early 90s. Someone was stabbed in the chest in the central square of Tampere on Friday night, I have seen numerous fights there, and when people are drunk you know that things might well kick off. And yet I’ve never seen a police van stationed in that square, something that’s standard practice in British town centres, and most of the drunken thuggery goes unchecked. It’s not a good advert for Finland and is pretty common in all Finnish towns.
But when football fans are involved, well, that’s a different matter entirely. Yesterday Sinikaarti, the Tampere United fan group, let off some smoke bombs in their section. It was a bit windy so it wasn’t as effective as it might have been, but it added some welcome colour to what is a pretty big game. Two HJK supporter groups were there, Sakilaiset and Forza HJK, and they installed themselves at opposite ends of the stadium. They do this every time they come to tampere, and I have no idea why. It confuses the hell out of Ratina security, however, one of whom assured a friend of mine that all the HJK fans were in the away fans section (Sakilaiset were not), while one of the Sakilaiset leaders was standing right behind him.
After the smoke bombs went off, the stewards decided to kick everyone in the Tampere United fan section out. The Sinikaarti leaders say they were quite prepared to evict those who were responsible for the smoke bombs, but still the stewards decided to get rid of everyone, innocent or guilty. The club say that smoke bombs are against the rules and that something had to be done, and they will be talking to the security guys to ascertain exactly what happened. Given their ‘razor sharp’ unawareness of 40 away fans in a home stand, I would love to hear what they have to say about that.
Sinikaarti stood behind the fence and watched the game from there instead, and Sakilaiset leaders came over to chat with them about what had happened, even remonstrating with the stewards on behalf of the ejected TamU fans. Before the game Sakilaiset were denied entry to OConnells, where TamU fans normally drink, and stood outside for a bit. Then some Sinikaarti members came out and walked to the ground, through the middle of the group of HJK fans. Now does that sound to you like a riot? Me neither. But rumour has it Radio Nova’s traffic reports disagreed on Sunday afternoon….
The match itself was a bit dull. HJK have become very good at closing down space and forcing teams to use long balls, as Inter did last week, but they also had a good plan to deal with Henri Myntti. He struggled to win headers and TamU’s attacks often broke down. They still took the lead though, through Myntti after a corner, before Jarno Parikka‘s introduction changed the game and gave HJK a 2-1 win.
Honka beat Lahti 1-0, a result that surely puts Lahti out of title contention, and HJK are now top of the league pending Inter’s expected demolition of KooTeePee tonight. You can see highlights of all the games here.