The latest interview for ETS is with Tero Koskela, who works for the Finnish player's union JPY (Jalkapallon Pelaajayhdistys). The work that the JPY do is crucial to maintain confidence and the integrity of the sport in Finland, and they do a fine job of it.
What is your role with the JPY?
What is your role with the JPY?
Well, my title is an account manager but I'm doing everything what is needed to do in our small organisation. We only have two full time employees so we have a lots of tasks to do and of course we try to serve all of our 1200 members. At the moment, I'm focusing more on meeting and educating players. For us it is important to physically be where the players are, in the locker room. When they let us to come to their “holy place”, we know we have earned their trust.
What are the challenges that the JPY now and in the future?
For our organization, we should get one or two employees more but that´s more of an economic issue. When it comes to the individuals (players) we need be active in open discussion about what kind of status the professional players have in our society. Our players doesn’t earn big money so they should have the same employee benefits that normal workers have. We still have too many players whose insurance doesn’t cover much if a bad injury happens.
The JPY appear to be very forward thinking with the match fixing app, the player CV database etc. Are there many more projects in the pipeline?
Of course we are open to any new ideas, but at the moment implementing these projects to our members takes big part of our time.
SJK's Juho Lähde talks about the match-fixing app
In England there is a lot of talk about young players earning big money and not perhaps having the hunger to succeed that those from Africa or South America - do you see changes in motivation for young Finns?
Big money is really not a big problem for young Finns. Earnings are often below the poverty line so being a footballer it is not very desired profession. At the same time, we have very high level of school education which ensures that everyone could retrain for another profession. We need to make our domestic football more interesting so that we do not lose our young talents to foreign leagues.
What support services do the JPY provide to foreign players moving to Finland?
We are giving them the Welcome to Finland magazine, where they can read some important facts in our culture and how the things are done here in Finland. We have a good relationship with some foreign players who have been here for a number of years and they are ready to help us if needed.
The Welcome to Finland magazine
The FIFPro tournaments in Oslo provide an excellent opportunity for free agents to try to earn new deals - do you get a lot of players trying to get involved?
In this economic climate it has become a lot more interesting for free agents. Teams in Finland often drag out their contract negotiations to sign players who participate in these FIFPro tournaments. This is one of the important services we need to develop, to help our unemployed players to find a club and give them chance to train professionally.
After the match-fixing problems at RoPS in the past, and the large betting interest in Finnish football, has the JPY app made a big difference?
Awareness around the match-fixing issue is the best thing that has happened. We have been able to give players a thorough education through this application and to discuss openly about the risks surrounding match fixing.
With MYPA and Honka having such public financial problems, what could clubs do differently/better to support players?
These two cases have similar problems. The players have been unaware of the situation because the club´s internal communications have been very poor. Telling the truth might not have saved the clubs, but it could have helped the players prepare for what is coming and maybe give them more time to change their plans.
Various Finnish clubs have been working with JYP to promote anti-racism and anti-discrimination campaigns - which countries do you think have done well with this?
In Scandinavia, Denmark and Norway have done a lot of really good work to promote this issue. I also have a feeling that in England, they do quite a lot of work through the Show Racism the Red Card campaign. I haven’t met any player who doesn’t support this.
JJK players show racism the red card last week
Some players I've met talk passionately about education and having a qualification to "fall back on" - is this a culture that's promoted to young players?
This is very important for our players. Players can’t live on their savings when they finish their career, if they've been playing in a big football country that´s a totally different situation. I don’t think it's necessary for a young player whose goal is to play abroad but when they see that the Finnish Premier League is the highest level where they are playing, then it's important to have a Plan B.
Many thanks again to Tero for his answers. You can follow the JPY on Twitter and Facebook, while Tero is also on Twitter here.