The majority owner of Finnish hockey team Jokerit, Harry "Hjallis" Harkimo said the team is considering taking legal action against newspaper Helsingin Sanomat for inappropriately using the team's logo.
On the cover of the September issue of its monthly magazine Kuukausiliite, Helsingin Sanomat used a version of the team's logo featuring the face of Russian President Vladimir Putin instead of the logo's illustrated smiling face (jokerit is Finnish for jokers). The magazine was published on Saturday.
"It's clearly a copy of our logo, there's nothing more to say about that point," Harkimo told Yle.
"I think it's unbelievable that one can take someone else's logo and change it however you want. I don't think that Helsingin Sanomat would like their logo to be altered and the face of [US President Donald] Trump or [Finnish Prime Minister Juha] Sipilä's head in it," Harkimo said.
"I cannot understand that they even thought like this, that do not have anything to say in the article itself about the club and ties to Russia," he said.
A couple of years ago, when Jokerit’s owners sold their home arena and 49 percent of the club itself to Russian investors, they also moved to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Harkimo retained a 51 percent stake in Jokerit.
The matter received quite a bit of attention on social media over the weekend. For example, on Twitter, Helsinki University's professor in world politics Teivo Teivainen said "a legal battle could further highlight the team's links to Putin. For a team that claims Finnish identity, that might be tricky."
Article continues after tweet.
HS: Illustration was satirical
The paper's cover illustration was for a related article about the connections between the team and Russia. Two of Jokerit's joint owners include Boris and Roman Rotenberg who reportedly have close ties to Vladimir Putin.
On Saturday Helsingin Sanomat's editor Kaius Niemi told news agency STT the article and the decision to use the doctored logo was given careful consideration by editorial staff.
"We have published an in-depth article that examines Jokerit's behind-the-scenes activites. As far as the cover is concerned, the picture is clearly satirical. It's a question of an adequately-original version [of the logo] created with the assistance of image editing software. It is impossible to confuse it with the original," Niemi said.
Team to consult legal options
"I don't have anything to say about it. They can write what they want but they can't do anything they want to our logo," Harkimo said.
Additionally, the newspaper did not ask the team for permission to use the logo, according to Harkimo.
"No, they didn't talk with us - not before and not after [it was published]," Harkimo said, adding that the team is unsure how it will proceed.
"We have to look into it with our lawyers, how we can move forward. I am completely convinced that one cannot alter someone else's logo. You can't change someone's logo how you want," he said.
"We will see what happens next week. We will not let this stand," Harkimo said.