Finland Suomen cup
Football, unlike most other European countries, is not the most popular spectator sport in Finland as it lags behind the hockey that is very popular in the country. Football is in the number of registered players (115,000 vs. 60,000) and as a popular hobby (160,000 vs 90,000 in adults and 230,000 vs 105,000 in teens) leader in ice hockey. It is the most popular hobby for 3-18 year olds, while ice hockey is the ninth. The image of football is steadily increasing, especially among girls and women, where the annual growth rate has been more than 10 percent lately. In the 2006/07 season were 19.9 percent of registered players female. The Finnish Football Association (Palloliitto) has about a thousand clubs. According to a Gallup poll, nearly 400,000 people take football into their hobbies.
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Football was first brought to Finland by English sailors in the 1890s and played for the first time in Turku. The first national competition in this sport was held in 1906 and won by a school team from Turku. The Finnish Football Association was founded in 1907 and joined FIFA the following year. Due to the historically low status of sport in Finland, the country has never really excelled in football. Only since the 1980s has the country brought forth international stars such as Jari Litmanen, Antti Niemi, Sami Hyypiä, Mikael Forssell, Mixu Paatelainen, Teemu Tainio and Jussi Jääskeläinen due to the revival of Finnish football.
The highest division in Finnish football is the Finnish Premier Division or Veikkausliiga, which consists of 12 professional football teams. Among them is a league system maintained by the Finnish Football Association with Ykkönen or First Division as the second highest league with 10 teams. Below Ykkönen, each division is divided into groups according to the location of the clubs. For example, the Second Division or Kakkonen has 40 teams divided into four regional groups of 10 teams each.
The Finnish Cup is Finland's national cup competition, open to all member clubs of the Finnish Football Association. In the 2009 season, 356 clubs have registered for the competition.
All Finnish national football competitions take place in spring, summer and autumn due to weather conditions. Similar systems are also used in the other Nordic countries, with the exception of Denmark, which had this system in the past.
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