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Tuesday’s papers: Population decline, sex doll bankruptcy, and Litmanen’s Qatar comments

In Tuesday’s press media mull a declining Finnish population, the failure of a sex doll brothel and a football star’s ethically questionable stand on Qatar.

Kahdet lastenrattaat ulkona
A sight that's set to become rarer in Finland. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Monday’s big news was a new population forecast that has the number of people living in Finland starting to decline by 2031.

Tuesday’s press is filled with follow-ups on the story, with most papers including some political reaction to the numbers.

Ilta-Sanomat has a good summary of the instinctive response, with most party leaders saying the country needs more immigration to compensate for the falling birth rate. Green Party leader and Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo, for instance, said that work-based immigration needs to increase and foreign students should find it easier to get work permits.

The big exception to that consensus was Finns Party chair Jussi Halla-aho.

He denied the need for increased work-based immigration, saying that Finland can get all the experts and workers it needs from within the European Union, which allows freedom of movement to workers.

Business daily Kauppalehti, meanwhile, looked at the incentives rural municipalities are using to try and up their birth rates.

In 2018, 62 councils were offering cheap plots of land to families looking to move there. Some 36 offered discounted business premises, while 27 were willing to pay parents who gave birth in the town.

In Halsua, Central Ostrobothnia, the council pays a thousand euros a year for each of a baby’s first three years as an official resident of the town.

Neighbouring Lestijärvi pays 10,000 euros in total for each newborn, and is planning to slash municipal tax rates with the proceeds of a giant new wind farm.

Sex doll brothel goes bust

Ilta-Sanomat has news from Finland’s first sex doll brothel, which is to close down permanently.

The sex services outlet trumpeted itself as a centre for state-of-the-art sex dolls and set up in the Helsinki suburb of Kannelmäki in November of last year.

Unfortunately for the owners, the venture did not bring in enough customers to cover costs and is set to shut down.

Proprietor Antti Karhinen told IS that there was no point throwing good money after bad, but he had still learnt a lot.

He recalled that a British documentary maker came to visit, but could not persuade his customers to talk because ‘most of them ran away’, suggesting sex dolls might not be losing any stigma associated with them.

Some of the used dolls are in such bad shape they will be thrown away, but Karhinen says the ones still working will be sold via an online auction site.

Litmanen’s human rights issue

Finnish football star Jari Litmanen, known as ‘the king’ for his unrivalled position as the greatest Finnish footballer of all time, has come under fire for his recent positive comments about Qatar’s World Cup in 2022.

Visiting the Middle Eastern emirate during the World Athletics Championships, Litmanen told the organisers’ website that ‘nobody will regret the Qatar World Cup in 2022’, referencing the Qatari success in beating off the United States, South Korea, Japan and Australia for the rights to host the world’s biggest football tournament.

The tournament was criticised on the grounds that there are allegations Qatar may have bribed voting delegates to win it, the climate in Qatar is so hot that it could not be played in the summer, the human rights issues around playing in a country that (for instance) criminalises homosexuality, and the forced labour alleged to be involved in building infrastructure in the oil-rich monarchy.

HS publishes an analysis piece arguing that he is ‘morally, no longer really a role model’. The paper lists the problems associated with the bid, including the 1,200 migrant workers believed to have died on construction sites associated with the tournament, and asks ‘what were you thinking, Jari Litmanen?’.

The paper reports that Litmanen told them he went on the trip at the request of a Finnish company but only attended one event with that firm. The rest was a private holiday with his wife, during which he also visited his friend Xavi, who coaches the Qatar national team.

He also declined to take a stand on anything but sporting matters in his interview or the written response to HS.

Finland midfielder Riku Riski was not so reticent last winter when asked to attend a training camp in Qatar. He declined to go for ethical reasons.

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