Niclas Lonnqvist wrote a series of articles in Hufvudstadsbladet this summer, focusing on immigrant sides in Helsinki. There was a Kosovan side, a Hispanic one, a Russian club and Mondial stars, a club that draws its players from any and all immigrant groups.

They have different problems to ‘normal’ Finnish clubs. As immigrants they have fewer sponsors to draw on, as their connections are not that good yet, so finances are difficult at times. Immigrants make less money than natives, in general, so asking the players to chip in can cause problems as well.

The finances of Finnish football are another problem. Municipal facilities are very cheap for junior clubs, as promoting sport among young people is one of the duties of local councils here, but for amateur teams it can be as much as four times as expensive. The league licenses are also much dearer for senior teams than for junior ones, especially as the line between pro clubs and pub teams is pretty blurred, and all the immigrant clubs play at or near that line.

They also face a different problem. Finnish teams can be reluctant to play against immigrant teams, as they have a lot of misconceptions about the way immigrants play football. When pitches are scarce over the winter, it is difficult for the immigrant clubs to get a game as the clubs with pitch bookings tend to ring up their mates in other clubs rather than ask the foreigners to play. So it tended to be Mondial against Colo Colo and Spartak (the Hispanic and Russian teams) when winter came around.

So last winter Mondial got a grant to buy a share in a heated pitch, as a means of ensuring they had a nice facility to play in. They invited lots of clubs for friendlies, including A Juniors from Atlantis, organised sauna evenings with other clubs, and generally tried to make themselves more well known and acceptable among Helsinki’s football fraternity. It was, it has to be said, a massive success.

Unfortunately they might not get the grant money this year, because instead of organising seminars about racism they played football and drank beer. I am an amateur at race relations, but in my limited experience of breaking down prejudices and barriers, sitting in classrooms has been much less productive than playing football and drinking beer. I hope Mondial get the money to continue their work from somewere. If you would like to help (money is good, offers to drink beer and play football infinitely better) then get in touch via footballinfinland ‘at’


23 Responses

  1. Answer for the article Mondial: The last chapter where you write about Race relations? There is only human race, not different races! i think you mean different ethnic groups.

  2. Right. So racism doesn’t exist either?

  3. right, there really is a problem in definition, even when you check a dictionary or the European Unions statement against racism: ´racism is the believe that one race is superior…´ we need the addition: ´the WRONG assumption that there are different races AND one is held superior to the others..`

    words are important and i would hope that the authorities would look into it, but since in Finland it seems to be impossible to erase the wörd ´neekeri´ and the football referees allow such words, we are far away from this…

    anyway, Egan can not be blamed, he did not claim to be an expert in ´race-relations´….

  4. I’m confused by the scare quotes. In Britain we have acts of parliament about race relations, we have think tanks dedicated to the subject, the term is very much in use and not stigmatised at all. And I dare to say that Britain is ahead of most if not all of Europe in this field, whatever the appropriate Finglish term for it is.

    I rather feel that if you try to explain to a racist that their idea of ‘race’ is socially constructed and has no scientific basis, you are missing the point spectacularly.

  5. i admit that the debate is somewhat academic.
    Its ivory-tower, not grasroot, lets not waste more energy on it here and leave it to the dictonary makers, but they sure should care about this one of these days…

  6. I tend to think that it is only useful in engaging the nuttier Seppo Lehtos of this world, who cling to rigid tenets of their ideology. And why on earth would normal people want to do that?

    If you look at racists who can articulate their ideas, rather than tha nazi idiots, they are usually okay with defining race as a socially constructed cultural difference. This might have something to do with languages as well – I’m not sure what ‘species’ is in any language except English, but they mean clearly different things in English.

  7. Interesting topic. Unfortunately, the typical response whenever the issue is brought up happened again. No matter what the central issue of the debate is, if the word “racism” is mentioned, the talks always go to the terminology debate.

    Since i am not a dictionary maker, I won’t get in there. Egan has a point when he says that social activities (pitch and beer) are more effective in breaking prejudice barriers.

    No matter what the society is – even in my home country Brazil, where there is also a big racism rate (Surprise Surprise!) -, sports generally give a good contribution for people to increase their understanding of human complexities rather than colour or ethnicity distinctions. Putting it shortly, people learn by (and enjoy) being sociable with different groups.

    As a black Brazilian in Finland, with my own prejudices as a person who had never been here before (like judging Finns as racists, which I learned to be a wrong generalization made by some people who supposedly warned me before coming here), I can tell that the best moments outside my home and among people in general were playing football, or enjoying beer, or partying…

    that is, by socializing.

  8. You don’t know what race is?

    Ask a black person in Brixton.

    You don’t know what racism is?

    Ask a black person in Brixton.

    You don’t know what barriers exist to race equality?

    Ask a black person in Brixton.

    If black people tell me that they experience discrimination because of their race; if I see black people discriminated against because of their race; if
    I see institutions like the police clinging to inherently discriminatory processes – then I know that race and racism exist. If some want to define race linguistically as a social construct, I respond that is language itself is also a social construct – and so what?

    If the possibility of acting (in however small a fashion) against that discrimination is deflected by smart-arsed academic wordplay (even if it might be well-intentioned) then the word-players are giving aid and conmfort to the racists.

    You start from where the society is. You don’t wring your hands and moan about the fact society isn’t where you want it to be.

  9. So according to this, all this hundreds of thousands that are spend against racism in sports and for social inclusion of migrants and foreigners should be spend for free pitches to play on and maybe to rent a place and have a party afterwards instead of research and seminars?

  10. How many migrants and foreigners come to seminars and participate in research?

    How many play sport and look for opportunities to interact with the indigenous population?

    Let the money be spent where it does most good for the greater number.

  11. Luckily I mentioned in my response that these social activities “contribute” to the whole process of reducing discrimination and prejudice (and are not the only .

    Of course, all efforts we have seen historically and lately (from academic researches to punishment for racist fans and worldwide campaigns like the one in football now, for instance) are other factors that contribute to the reduction of such stupid ideas.

  12. (and are not the only solution for the problem), I meant to say above.

  13. ok, Brazil has done a good job many years ago and for Finland all this is new. When i came to Finland 1984, i think there was only 10 0r 20.000 foreigners here and most of them well chosen, well connected and well off…

  14. Leonardo I agree that a variety of approaches is needed. But it is a false dichotomy to suggest that projects enabling different groups to get to know one another through everyday grass roots activities are in opposition to academic studies of what actually works.

    After all, if no-one is doing the experiments on the ground to see what works, what could the academics study? They could only embark on an infinite regression of refining the definition of the problem….

    Chrisu, would you tell cancer patients and their families that there is no money for treatment because it has to be spent on refining the definition of the disease? If you would, can I be there to watch when you do so, please?

  15. hey Gerry,

    if you keep that up, you are going to force me to dig deep into the archives and find out when it was stated that there are but one human race and than i am going to show you that the term rasist had been created before this. this will go to proove that the description to the term had been formed under the wrong pre-conditions.
    That way you are going to waste a lot of my time that i could use to prsh against racism or to open doors for migrants in Finland or to rest and recover from that work.
    Or you could just read my earlier posting where i say:
    its important but should for now been left to the dictionary makers…
    and thats your point, no?

    By the way: last night Mondial Stars had a friendly with the Helsinki district Referees. They won 7-2. Obi Aniche, former HJK Star scored 3 for Mondial.
    The game was played as part of the FARE-Action Week
    and since this was the 3rd time this Game had been in a great atmosphere of mutual Respect. Mondial actually played in the LIIKKUKAA-Respect Shirts.

    I guess this was another useless effort by the standards of the Authorities that are distributing aid for action?

  16. ´prsh´ means ´push´

  17. ´rasist´ – ´racist´,
    man, i must have been excited !

  18. “man, i must have been excited !”

    Excellent! Enjoy the football. Enjoy the beer. Let the typos take care of themselves – they’re not as important.

    (And its nice to hear about referees on the business end of a pasting!)

    I get concerned when people of good will get diverted by semantic arguments from the real job of opposing hate and prejudice in all its forms. I might not use the same theoretical approach to bigotry as you do, but I suspect that we both know it when we see it.

    Call it a draw?

  19. allright, than, thanks Gerry

  20. Is it just me, but why is it the Swedish papers always cover these kind of more interesting left of field news stories? Seems they are way more open minded, broad and bold in some of their journalism than the Finnish language papers which is pretty weird if you ask me, considering there are WAY more Finnish media outlets. Odd.

  21. well, i have been living here in 25 years and its always been felt that the swedish population is more open minded…

  22. Oxford Dictionary
    of English
    “noun [MASS NOUN] the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
    prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief”

  23. thanks, Frank, but now lets please not anymore spend time on behalf of the dictionary-makers. Mondial Stars has received a 500,- Euro bill for fines.
    Any game with more than a certain amount of warnings results in a 85.- Euro fine in Helsinki district and Mondial had 6 of those. Normaly it goes like this:
    ´Hey Ref, this guy called me something racist, did you not hear?´ ´Hey you, you dont have to call anybody racist, its a serious crime to call anybody that, so here is your yellow card.´ (ok this is slightly exegarated but it is said in the Helsinki district that calling somebody a racist is as serious as calling somebody something racist. So it is very difficult to claim your case, you do most likely end up being punished… And believe me, Mondial Players are very mature and disciplined and coach Obiora Aniche hates it when his players loose their temper, so they dont) Or at many incidentes the FA fails to send 3 Referees even though the clubs pay high fees for it. But dare you if a player has a doubt about the sole referees off-side decision and even if he inquires in a civilized way about it: yellow!
    you should have seen Littmanen arguing with the Ref on Sunday or sometimes Nurmela with the guy on the side-line, i guess for a Mondial Player it could be a four year ban!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: