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Friday's papers: Brexit brainstorm, daycare update, and murky football sacking

Friday's newspapers include a mixed bag of stories including a demolition of one business leader's idea on Brexit, more on the closure of English daycare centre in Tampere, and a contested sacking of a footballer in Seinäjoki.

Daily newspapers
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

Brexit has been occupying minds across the continent since June 24, and Finland has its own share of business thinkers grappling with the problem. Jyri Häkämies, who heads up the Confederation of Finnish Industries, is one such figure and he has a certain amount of pedigree.

He's a towering figure in the centre-right National Coalition Party, and he took up his current post directly from his previous job as Minister for the Economy. He has some stature, therefore, and his statements are taken seriously.

This time his outburst hasn't been so well-received. Häkämies had pondered whether Britain might be granted some restrictions on EU immigration to secure a deal whereby the United Kingdom would stay in the European single market after Brexit. This is quite a break with most European politicians' pronouncements, and it wasn't well-received by one columnist in Ilta-Sanomat.

Hanna Vesala pointed out that the Häkämies plan would encourage other countries to leave the EU, creating a multi-tier Europe. That's impossible as things stand, argues Vesala, and in any case Britain's politicians seem to be in disarray and unable to agree a plan even between themselves--never mind with their European partners.

Daycare blues

Last week a daycare centre in Tampere was shut down over concerns about the qualifications and capabilities of staff members. Local authorities were concerned about a number of issues at the English International School of Tampere, and moved to switch children to new nurseries after a recent inspection.

The clamp down was not popular with parents of some of the 60 children at the centre. They say they've been happy with the care offered by the staff and don't want the facility to be closed down.

Tampere daily Aamulehti has followed the story closely and on Friday has more updates on the situation. Manager Scott Rizzo tells the paper he 'still can't process what's happened', but claims the support of the majority of the parents. He says accounts of shouting or aggression might be down to poor Finnish skills among the staff, or misunderstandings--and he flatly denied that children might be served deficient, or insufficient, food.

The paper also speaks to Pia Petsalo, a mum-of-five who has more than twenty years' experience of the school. She loves it, saying that the food is great and the children have improved their English and learnt social skills at a high level. She hopes Rizzo will be able to continue operations at some point in the future.

Mëité accused of match-fixing?

Finnish football wouldn't be Finnish football without suspicions of match-fixing. This year has been quiet on that front, but this week a story blew up at the reigning champions, SJK Seinäjoki.

They had announced the cancellation of the contract of Abdoulaye Mëité, a centre-back from the Ivory Coast, before replacing him with unemployed Finn Juhani Ojala. It seemed like a decent move at the time: Ojala is younger than Mëité and has been a promising talent before his career stalled somewhat recently, and Mëité has not impressed as much as he did in previous spells at FC Honka.

But rumours swirled that the Ivorian may have been subject to suspicions over match-fixing, and that was the real reason for the sacking. Urheilulehti reported that rumour on Thursday, and on Friday Helsingin Sanomat follows up with an extensive story based on interviews with the player himself.

He's angry and protests his innocence. He says he was called into a meeting with SJK sporting director Janne Kotamäki, where he was told that the club had received a call from the police saying that Mëité was suspected of result manipulation. No evidence of the suspicions was presented. Kotamäki denied that, saying the move was purely based on performance levels, and the policeman who deals with most investigations into match-fixing in Finland also denied he'd been asked to look at Mëité.

As ever in these matters, the truth is out there. But it's very difficult to find it.

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