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Finnish football league joins Pride week

Finland's top football league Veikkausliiga has announced a series of Pride events held at a round of matches scheduled this week.

Sateenkaarilippu hulmuaa.
It's Pride week in Helsinki. Image: Yle

Finnish football shows its support for Pride week this weekend, with each team's captain wearing a rainbow flag armband in a round of matches designated as anti-homophobia games in co-operation with the Finnish LGBT organisation Seta.

"Football is for everyone, but discrimination shouldn't be part of football," said Veikkausliiga communications director Pyry Waltari. "We want to remind and challenge other leagues and sports to be brave and show their colours."

Veikkausliiga has been at the forefront of efforts to fight homophobia in sports, signing the ‘promise for equality in sport’ in 2014 and in the following years joining panel discussions about homophobia in sport.

The league says its “pride round” of matches complements its long-running Respect and Red Card to Racism campaigns.

"Everyone should feel able to be themselves on the pitch and in the stands," said Ilari Äijälä, who sits on the board of the Finnish players' union. "This year it's also been great to see that several football clubs including in the women's league and lower divisions have used the rainbow armband and shown their support to victims of discrimination."

This year’s round of pride matches on 29 and 30 June coincides with Helsinki’s pride parade, which is scheduled for Saturday 30 June.

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