The referee scandal in Finnish football swells. On Friday, the Football Association announcedthat it has canceled the spring training event for the referees of the major leagues planned for the weekend.
The training was to be organized in Eerikkilä. Palloliitto says that they are looking for a new time for the training and there will be changes to the content of the training.
Referees and assistant referees of the Veikkausliiga, First League, Men’s First and Second League, and the National League were supposed to participate in the training in question.
The accusations are aimed at three referee bosses
The referee scandal became public when Helsingin Sanomat reported in Januarythat three former top referees and the current users of the highest authority – Jouni Hyytää, Petter Karia and Mattias Gestranius – accused of years of arbitrary behavior and abuse of power.
The referees who were the source of HS told about abuse of power, bullying, nepotism, discrimination, pressure to use alcohol and sexual harassment by the trio. According to sources, the trio has created an inappropriate operating culture, which has driven referees out of action.
The above-mentioned trio made a famous and extensive refereeing career. After their refereeing careers, the three have worked in positions where they have been able to decide on the progress of other referees’ careers and referee positions.
Jouni Hyytiä, 59, was the head referee of the Football Association in 2017–2021. Now he is a referee observer.
Petteri Kari, 52, has worked as a member of the referee committee and as a referee observer, currently he is the chairman of the referee committee.
Mattias Gestranius, 45, ended his refereeing career in the spring of 2022 and immediately moved to Palloliitto as a coach for top referees.
The latest decision of the Finnish Football Association to cancel the training event does not come as a complete surprise. Helsingin sanomat newspaper said on Thursdaythat the referees of the top leagues sent an ultimatum to Pallloliito on Wednesday.
The Premier Referee Club decided at its meeting that it does not want persons suspected of improper activity to train in a weekend course.
The Premier Referee Club had conducted a survey of its members. Three quarters of the respondents were of the opinion that the referee committee and its chairman Kari do not enjoy trust. A little more than half see that referee coach Gestranius does not enjoy trust.
Dissatisfaction is directed at Gestranius and Kari, as the majority showed confidence in the referee function and the head referee of the Football Association.
The Football Association has known for a long time
General Secretary of the Football Association Marco Casagrande said in January that the Balloliitto has been investigating the alleged abuses for more than three months. Casagrande admitted that over the years there has been “more turbulence than average” in refereeing.
The management of the ball association was said to have known about the difficulties in the referee function for years. Casagrande stated that things have been clarified when they have come up.
– The things that have come up now, yes, they have been dealt with at the time and, in my opinion, exactly in the way that was appropriate at that moment.
– Very often conflicts between people are such that there are very opposing views on things and it is difficult to get evidence of what has actually happened. There has been information about individual issues and they have been dealt with.
Read more: HS: The Football Association is investigating suspicions of misconduct by referee bosses – this is how the general secretary responds: “More than average effervescence”
The internal inspection of the Swedish Football Association was completed at the beginning of the year. Football Association announced January 31, that the internal audit has handed over its report on the refereeing activities to the Board of the Football Association.
– Often these types of processes have led to new guidelines being made with superiors. Of course, we can take the process forward, for example, to Suek or, in extreme cases, to the authorities. Currently, there is no such information that there is a need for larger follow-up processes, Casagrande said earlier.
According to Palloiliitto, the refereeing activity became the subject of an internal audit due to comments received from the management of the Palloliitto, the personnel of the refereeing function, referee clubs and individual referees.
– The task of the internal audit is, among other things, to support the organization’s reliability with its activities and to monitor that valid regulations, regulations and given instructions are followed in the organization’s operations, giving advice on the development of systems and methods of operation.
According to the release, the internal audit gave the Finnish Football Association’s board its recommendations on measures to develop and improve the operation of the referee function. The board decided on the next steps to correct the grievances.
Now, in connection with its latest press release, Palloliitto says that, based on the internal audit report, Palloliitto’s management has conducted consultations and analysis and prepared measures related to the referee function and the referee committee.
The Finnish Football Association is still processing the matter.