There is no provision in Finnish law that allows a club to permanently prevent a troublemaker from entering a football stadium.
Crowd trouble at the Veikkausliiga football league match between HJK and HIFK on Monday night made headlines and sparked a wide debate on social media.
During the first half of the s. Stadin derby – or Helsinki Derby – people at the HIFK end of the ground set fire to an HJK banner, prompting some at the HJK end to smash billboards and attempt to storm the field.
The disturbance caused the game to be delayed by about seven minutes, as police in riot gear and multiple police dogs lined the halfway line in an effort to restore order.
Talking to Yle, CEO of Veikkausliiga Timo Marjamaa condemned the behavior of the people involved.
“They don’t understand that football is a community sport and belongs to everyone. You can’t take it hostage and do whatever you want. It’s very unfortunate that a certain group wants to do these things without considering others,” Marjamaa said. .
Police arrested 11 people during the match and another 24 afterward. They also seized around 100 fireworks.
“There have been many attempts to block it and prevent it [the disruptive behaviour]. It’s really frustrating that certain people can still run their own show,” Marjamaa said.
He added that the challenge facing football authorities in Finland is that, unlike other countries, there is no provision in Finnish law that allows clubs or the governing body to permanently ban people from entering stadiums.
The Finnish Center for Integrity in Sport (FINCIS) released a report on Monday stating that current Finnish law does not recognize the concept of a ban.
The author of the report Janne Ripat noted that a rioter ban system cannot be introduced in Finland due to existing legislation on freedom of movement, under the terms of the Assembly Law and the Private Security Services Law.
Furthermore, Marjamaa pointed out that such bans would not necessarily solve the problem, even if they were introduced.
“In any case, you can buy tickets and get into the game through the gate sales. This presents its own challenges, how to get these wildcards out of there,” he said.
The Finnish Football Association Disciplinary Committee has often fined clubs for disorderly conduct by fans, and Marjamaa estimates that the two clubs, HJK and HIFK, could face fines of thousands of euros after Monday’s scenes.
He further added that it is up to the police to decide whether a club should be forced to play in front of an empty stadium, not the Veikkausliiga or the FA.
Helsinki police chief Jarmo Heinonen he told Yle that the options available to the police to deal with these matters are limited, as the default for public events is that the organizer is responsible for ensuring things run safely and smoothly.
“In such cases, various national solutions have been sought, so that if the spectators cannot be controlled, the game is played in front of empty stands, for example. But I think everyone would like to see big sporting events like these enjoyed by everyone,” Heinonen said.
He also noted that police always hold talks with organizers before matches to discuss how best to prepare for known threats. This will also be the case for Thursday’s Europa League match between HJK and Real Betis.
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