Finland mourns Pekka Hämäläinen

Former Football Association of Finland president Pekka Hämäläinen – vastly respected in his home country and in international football – has passed away at the age of 74.

Former Football Association of Finland president Pekka Hämäläinen has passed away at the age of 74.
Former Football Association of Finland president Pekka Hämäläinen has passed away at the age of 74. ©Sportsfile

Finnish football has lost one of its most prominent figures in former Football Association of Finland (SPL-FBF) president Pekka Hämäläinen, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 74 after a long illness.

Pekka Hämäläinen was a vastly respected servant of football in Finland, and his term as SPL-FBF president from 1997 to 2009 was the second longest in the association's history. He was also influential within international football – serving in particular as a member of the UEFA Committee for the European Championship (1998–2000), as vice-chairman of the Assistance Programmes Committee (2000–06), and as chairman of the same committee (2006–07).

He went on to become first vice-chairman of the UEFA Legal Committee from 2007–11, before joining the Amicale des Anciens circle of former UEFA committee members in 2012 – the same year he was named SPL-FBF honorary president. During his term as president, Finland hosted three UEFA final tournaments – Under-18 in 2001, Women's Under-19 in 2004 and Women's EURO in 2009 – as well as the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2003.

Pekka Hämäläinen also enjoyed a fruitful playing career. He won the Finnish championship with HIFK Helsinki in 1961, and worked for that club in various capacities. The current SPL-FBF president Pertti Alaja paid a warm tribute. "We have lost a person whose merits in developing football in Finland are enormous," he said. "We will all deeply miss Pekka, who was a true servant of the game. He had a heart of football gold. His good humour always touched everyone around him. There is so much we should thank him for."

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