Football is a popular sport in Finland and the number of new players is increasing rapidly. There are about 150 000 footballers in Finland. Football stranded in Finland at the end of 19 th century, and it became more known sport in the beginning of 20 th century. Finland’s football association was founded in 1907 and joined FIFA a year later, at a time when the country was still a part of the Russian Empire. The Football Association of Finland (Suomen Palloliitto) is based in the Finnish capital city Helsinki, and it is not only the governing body of Finnish football, but it has also been the governing body of Finnish futsal since 1997.
The Finnish Football Association is organizing all national team activities. Finnish football national teams are called Huuhkajat (men’s team) and Helmarit (women’s team). Year 2021 and 2022 have been great years to both national teams because men’s team played first time ever in UEFA European championship tournament and women’s played in Euro tournament first time since year 2013. Also, in futsal year 2022 was great. The Finnish national futsal team played first time in European Championships in 2022.
The highest division in men’s football in Finland is called Veikkausliiga with 12 teams competing. The second highest division is called Miesten ykkönen and the third highest division is called Miesten kakkonen. The structures of the leagues are explained below. All these three leagues are national and the players that are playing in these leagues can join the Finnish Players’ Association.
The structure of Veikkausliiga year 2023
Veikkauliiga is being played in the following way:
So total number of the games is 167. In addition, there will be two qualification games to Veikkausliiga. Those games are organized by Football Association of Finland, so they are not part of Veikkausliiga.
How the teams will be selected to UEFA international club competitions for the 2023/2024?
The Finnish champion of Veikkausliiga will get the first spot for UEFA Champions league qualification, the winner of Finnish Cup gets the first spot for the UEFA Europa Conference league qualifications, and the second placed in the Veikkausliiga gets the second place in the UEFA Europa Conference league qualifications (if the Cup winner has placed first or second in the Veikkausliiga, the second placement entitling to the European Conference League goes to the third placed in the Veikkausliiga).
After the Veikkausliiga Championship and Challenger Series have ended, a separate UECL final tournament will be played, for the last (third) place qualifying for the UEFA European Conference League for the next international game season 2023/2024. If the winner of the Finnish Cup is ranked 1-7, then the runner-up of the Challenger Series, i.e., the 8th team of the Veikkausliiga, will participate in the final tournament.
The structure of Miesten Ykkönen:
Miesten Ykkönen is the second highest division in men’s football in Finland with 12 teams. The team ranked 12th in the Veikkausliiga is relegated directly to Ykkönen for the next season. The team ranked 11th in the Veikkausliiga qualifies for a place in the Veikkausliiga with the team that won the promotion qualification to Ykkönen, in a two-part qualification.
Miesten Kakkonen is the third highest division in Finland in men’s football. There are three groups in this division and the teams are geographically distributed into those groups. The groups are simply called A, B and C. Each group has 12 teams. Each team plays twice against all the other teams in their group, so each team has in total of 22 games. After these 22 games the winners of the three groups and the best runner-up play the promotion qualifiers, based on which two teams move up to the Miesten Ykkönen for the next season. The last three teams will be relegated directly to Kolmonen (the fourth division).
The Football Association of Finland (Suomen Palloliitto) has decided to change the structure of men’s football leagues for the next years. The new system will be valid for the season 2024. The change of structure will be affected to the teams who are fighting for staying Miesten Ykkönen or Kakkonen next season (2023). You can read more for the new league structure here: https://www.palloliitto.fi/ajankohtaista/sarjajarjestelmauudistus-kaudeksi-2024-miesten-ykkonen-laajenee-kahdeksi-sarjatas
The highest league in women’s football in Finland is called Kansallinen Liiga. The second highest division is called Naisten ykkönen. Kansallinen Liiga and Naisten Ykkönen are both national leagues and the players that are playing in these leagues can join Football Players’ Association. (Jalkapallon Pelaajayhdistys).
The structure of Kansallinen Liiga:
The structure of Naisten Ykkönen:
Naisten Ykkönen is the second highest division in women’s football in Finland. There are 10 teams in the league.