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National associations

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


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 Football Association of Finland (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.

"We will strive for growth. An effort must be made at all levels of the game to increase participation, and for women and girls in particular."

Ari Lahti, SPL-FBF president

During the pandemic, the association took 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 2022 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 HatTrick programme has been essential in those efforts. Various projects are receiving UEFA HatTrick support, including:

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.
Artificial pitches in Finland
Artificial pitches in Finland©Kai Jäderholm

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 provide 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

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.


Association history

1890s Football arrives in Finland through the influence of English sailors, merchants and businessmen. 1905 First unofficial championship. 1906 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. Present day

National team history

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 play Sweden in the first match in UEFA's new national team 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. 2021 Finland win on EURO final tournament debut, eventually finishing third in their group. 2022 Finland again participate at a Women's EURO although are unable to progress in a tough group including Germany, Spain and Denmark. Present day


Ari Lahti

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

Ari Lahti
Ari Lahti©FA of Finland

General secretary

Marco Casagrande

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

Marco Casagrande
Marco Casagrande©UEFA.com

Football Association of Finland website