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Man faces trial over football match racist abuse

The incident took place at an amateur football game in Kouvola in July last year.

Jalkapallojuniori pelaamassa jalkapalloa.
The man facing charges at Kymenlaakso District Court attended the July 2020 game as a spectator.  Image: Kalle Purhonen / Yle

A man faces charges of ethnic agitation over racist abuse hurled at players during an amateur football match in Kouvola last year.

The incident took place during a game between local teams Bar Joker and Kouvolan Lakut, an amateur side linked to the city's Saaga Multicultural Centre.

The Saaga centre alleged that racist abuse against its players during the game - who are of immigrant background - came both on the pitch and from the stands.

However, police investigations focused on the spectators at the match, following a report from a supporter who was watching the game.

The man facing charges at Kymenlaakso District Court was also attending the July 2020 game as a spectator.

"We have a good external witness who will also be heard in court in due course. The accused has also partly admitted his actions," prosecutor Matti Torkkel said.

According to the prosecution, the case is unusual as it concerns racist shouting in public, rather than social media or other public writings. Convictions for ethnic agitation usually result in a sentence of several dozen income-linked day fines.

"Incitement against a group of people is a serious crime, which the police are investigating with particular care. There were many hearings and interviews," said Detective Sergeant Juha Lehtoranta of the South-East Finland Police Department.

In April this year a player in the Czech national team was punished for racially abusing Finland and Glasgow Rangers footballer Glen Kamara during a club match in Scotland.

Czech player Ondřej Kúdela was handed a ten-match ban by European football authority UEFA which resulted in him missing the delayed Euro 2020 tournament.

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