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Developing football in Finland

The game in Finland has continued to rise in popularity – and development work has been a crucial catalyst for on-field success at various levels.

©AFP/Getty Images


Source: UEFA grassroots survey (2019)

The association has drawn up a series of strategic goals:

  • Goal-oriented leadership of clubs through a networking process.
  • Ensuring that football is the biggest sport on and off the field.
  • The SPL-FBF should be seen as progressive and supporting the clubs.

The biggest challenge that Finland faces in its growth strategy is the country’s demographics. Consequently, the association is investing heavily in education at all levels – with the main priority being to offer a well-trained and competent coach for every player in the country.

The growth in the number of registered players during the previous strategy period was 4 % in total, and almost 12 % among women and girls.

During the pandemic, the association has taken a very active role by pursuing continuous dialogue with decision-making bodies at all levels. This support has helped Finland’s football community to survive during these extremely challenging times. A major goal has been to ensure that everything was ready for the restart of activities.

Qualification for UEFA EURO 2020, Women’s EURO 2021 and the 2022 UEFA Futsal EURO is the result of the association’s long-term commitment to the development of the game at all levels in Finland. There is great pride in these achievements, which provides the motivation to enhance development work in the future. Progress is guaranteed through the current 2020–24 national strategy for football and futsal.

UEFA support

The association has invested heavily in developing the best possible infrastructure for football players at all levels. The role of UEFA’s Hat Trick programme has been essential in those efforts. Various projects are receiving UEFA HatTrick support, including:

Artificial pitches in Finland
Artificial pitches in Finland©Kai Jäderholm

Artificial pitches, indoor football halls and club training centres

  • Helping regions, clubs and municipalities to improve their football facilities.
  • Supporting the construction of new football facilities.
  • Providing more playing opportunities across the country.

Infrastructure development programme

  • Encouraging clubs and municipalities to launch new stadium and/or stadium renovation projects.
  • Supporting club development and enhancing the vitality and quality of top football clubs. Improved football infrastructures provides an additional opportunity to increase match-day revenues and achieve economic success.
  • Supporting stadium development projects, in particular for venues that do not meet safety and security requirements, SPL-FBF club licensing requirements, etc.

Finnish clubs will benefit from better facilities and will be able to play all year around.

Find out how EURO directly helps develop Finnish football
Find out how EURO directly helps develop Finnish football

Development process of the regional centres of excellence

Because Finland covers a very extensive area, the SPL-FBF decided to establish regional centres of excellence to cover all parts of the country. In addition to the Eerikkilä Sports Institute in Tammela, the council and board of the SPL-FBF decided to set up two regional centres of excellence in the northern and central parts of the country.

Results are visible in players’ and clubs’ development. The clubs are working in a more professional way and are developing the players more systematically than before. In order to enhance the quality of this plan, as well as the quality of elite football (players and coaches), the SPL-FBF aims to strengthen the workforce within the regional centres.


Behind Teemu Pukki's goals, Finland qualified for their first EURO in 2019
Behind Teemu Pukki's goals, Finland qualified for their first EURO in 2019©UEFA.com

Association history

1890s: Football arrives in Finland through the influence of English sailors, merchants and businessmen.
1905: First unofficial championship.
First international fixture – Unitas Helsinki v Sport St Petersburg.
1907: The Football Association of Finland is founded.
1908: The Finnish FA joins FIFA.
1954: The association joins UEFA.
1970/80s: Improved facilities helps produce talented players, many of whom move to play abroad.
2009: Finland hosts the UEFA European Women’s Championship finals.
2018: Finland plays host to the UEFA European Under-19 Championship finals.

National team competitions

1911: Finland’s first international – a 5-2 defeat by Sweden in Helsinki.
1912: Finland’s national team beat Italy and Russia at the Stockholm Olympics.
1982: Finland plays Sweden in the first match in UEFA’s new European Competition for Women's Football.
2005: Finland reach the Women’s EURO semi-finals.
2019: Finland beat Liechtenstein in qualifying Group J to book a place at UEFA EURO 2020 – their first-ever major men’s international tournament.

Ari Lahti
Ari Lahti©FA of Finland/Jussi Eskola


Ari Lahti

Nationality: Finnish
Date of birth: 15 March 1963
Association president since: 2018 

Marco Casagrande
Marco Casagrande©UEFA.com

General secretary

Marco Casagrande

Nationality: Finnish
Date of birth: 4 April 1972
Association general secretary since: 2013

Football Association of Finland website