Thursday's papers: Vaccinating kids, Holocaust denier apologises, football cliffhanger

A controversial department store owner has rowed back on his weekend social media posts about the Holocaust and a secretive elite intent on global domination.

File photo of a Kärkkäinen department store in Lahti. Image: Juha-Petri Koponen/Yle

The chances that Finland will begin rolling out coronavirus vaccines to children aged between 5 and 11 before the end of this year has taken a big step forward, according (siirryt toiseen palveluun) to the largest-circulation daily Helsingin Sanomat.

The latest development follows reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) from the United States that a panel of experts from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the benefits of jabbing children with the Pfizer vaccine outweigh any other health risks.

Finland's National Advisory Committee on Vaccines (Krar) is currently considering the matter, HS writes, and a report is expected by the end of next month.

"The effect of the disease on children and young people is small compared to the burden of disease in the elderly, but still not insignificant," public health agency THL's chief physician and vaccinologist Hanna Nohynek told HS.

"Isolated cases of serious disease have been reported in children. There have also been cases of Long Covid in children around the world, and that too needs to be considered."

However, there are still a number of steps to go in the process, assuming Krar and THL do recommend vaccinations for kids.

Extending the Pfizer vaccine for this age group would require a conditional EU marketing authorisation as well as changes to the government's legally binding vaccine decree.

Repentant retailer

Tabloid Iltalehti reports (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that controversial retail boss Juha Kärkkäinen has promised to give up writing Facebook posts that, for example, deny the Holocaust or link President Sauli Niinistö to conspiracy theories and instead put more time and energy into his day job, running his bargain basement chain of department stores.

"Out of respect for the company's employees and suppliers, I have decided to stop publishing statements about political matters or other issues that concern other people," IL quotes Kärkkäinen as writing.

The retailer caused quite a stir over the weekend when, as IL also reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun), he called Finland's President an "Nwo henchman", a reference to the New World Order (NWO) conspiracy theory — popular among far-right warriors of the keyboard — which claims a secretive power elite is intent on global domination.

Kärkkäinen has now asked for forgiveness from the president, IL writes, and anyone else who "may have been offended" by his posts or statements on social media.

The retail magnate has plenty of previous experience when it comes to self-inflicted damage to his company's brand. In 2015, a number of big Finnish companies — including Finlayson and Fiskars — cut all ties with the department store chain following Kärkkäinen's publication of "repulsive propaganda" in a freesheet newspaper.

These companies remain unmoved by Kärkkäinen's latest apology however and told (siirryt toiseen palveluun) IL they intend to keep their products out of his stores, with Oulu-based Kaleva also reporting (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that local ice-hockey side Kärpät are now reconsidering their sponsorship arrangement with the chain.

Kärkkäinen has also previously made headlines because of his strong links to far-right groups and a conviction for agitation against an ethnic group.

And that's not all. During the summer he urged his employees not to take the coronavirus vaccine, inviting them to 'do their own research' by sending around anti-vaxx videos and links though the company's internal communications channel.

The winner takes it all

Ilta-Sanomat has videos of all the goals (siirryt toiseen palveluun) from a pulsating penultimate matchday in the top tier of Finnish football on Wednesday evening.

A hard-fought 1-0 win for Helsinki-based HJK over their city rivals HIFK means they now lead Kuopio's KuPS — who drew 2-2 in Seinäjoki against SJK — by just one point with just one game to play.

And what is that game? Yes, it's KuPS against HJK in Kuopio on Sunday evening at 5pm, providing Finnish football fans with the rare drama of a last-day, winner-takes-all league title decider.

Story continues after the photo.

KuPS (yellow shirts) will host HJK (blue and white stripes) on Sunday evening at 5pm in a league title decider. Image: Matti Raivio / All Over Press

The scenario is simple: If KuPS win, they are the champions. If they don't, HJK will take the crown.

"You don't get to play championship deciders every day," KuPS captain Anton Popovich said after his side's game. "We'll just enjoy this week while we have this great opportunity. Hopefully we’ll win on Sunday and raise the trophy."