After committing to equal pay for both their men's and women's national teams, the Football Association of Finland has announced their next move towards gender equality. The top-flight Women's League will no-longer contain the word "Women".
From this season onwards, the league will be known as Kansallinen Liiga or National League in English. The men's league is known as Veikkausliiga after their sponsor.
Ari Lahti, the association's president, explains this gender-neutral approach: "Last summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup proved that people do not base their interest in football on the gender of the players. People come to the games to see top athletes play quality football. That is why women’s football should be treated equally to men’s football.”
The Football Association of Finland is committed to reaching equality and this is just the latest step. “Reaching full equality in sports still demands a ton of hard work. Our sincere wish is that other leagues both in Finland and globally will follow our lead. We aspire to be a pioneer of equality in the eyes of the whole sports community” says Lahti.
Heidi Pihlaja, Head of Women’s Football Development, echos this sentiment: “It is common within the sports community to talk about sports and women’s sports as if the latter would be less worthy when this, of course, is not the case. Football is football – no matter who kicks the ball. Some might see changing the name as insignificant but actually it is a strong statement that symbolises a bigger cultural change within the sports community and our society.”
"We are looking forward to continuing the development of football as a sport for all genders while at the same time increasing inclusivity and recognising its potential to grow,” explains Pihlaja.
The league will be sponsored by Subway and more information about the upcoming season will be released next month.News Now - Sport News