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The Helsinki Airport. Picture: Morgan Walker for Finland Today

The Finnish police caught and turned away a group of Swedish football hooligans at the Helsinki Airport on Saturday. The overzealous football supporters had plans to join an organized mass brawl in the capital region.

The flight had arrived from Stockholm, and according to the police they had received information of their arrival from “international exchange of information.” The hooligans didn’t resist their capture, and bystanders weren’t in danger.

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According to a source who was on the same flight as the hooligans, there were 14 of them on the plane.

Football fans walking to a game at the Töölö football stadium in 2013. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Violence increases

In Finland, football hooliganism appeared already in the ‘90s but has for decades remained in the shadows as a minor phenomenon.

However, in 2015 the confrontations became more violent. The most notorious example happened at a football stadium in Tampere central Finland, where hooligans supporting the Helsinki team HIFK attacked several security officers.

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The unexceptional violence led to bruises and a dislocated shoulder; stones were thrown at the police; half a dozen of HIFK fans were apprehended. The hooligans received bans and assault sentences.

The most recent mass brawl happened in August 2017 in Kirkkonummi about 32 kilometers from Helsinki, where dozens of fans of HIFK and HJK (rival Helsinki team) had organized a fight at a gravel pitch. A Polish man, about 30, was seriously injured. This time, the brawl occurred before the actual game day.

Recently, it’s been a common sight to see the police in riot gear protecting the safety of the patrons at the games of the premier division (Veikkausliiga) and the first and the second division.

According to the authorities and the Football Association of Finland, there are about 100 football fans in Finland who are considered as “risk supporters.”

Picture on the cover: B. C. Lorio