[Blog] Kansallinen Liiga. New name. Is this a new start for Finnish women?

Women’s football is at its highest profile point so far. A wildly successful World Cup, a global icon in Megan Rapinoe who graces the front page of mainstream magazines and my niece growing out of Peppa Pig and asking for shinpads for her birthday. It now feels time for Finland to surf the wave. The national team have started well in qualifying for Euro 2021 and the players move further across Europe in search of club glory.

The top division of women’s football in Finland has undergone a major rebranding – the key take away is a name change, from Naisten Liiga (women’s league) to Kansallinen Liiga (national league), removing the gender aspect of the title, with the ultimate aim of it being an entity in it’s own right, in the way that men’s leagues are not referred to by prefix alone.

Kansallinen Liiga has a new logo, font and branding where pink is no longer used, again making it less “feminine”. A major sponsor, Subway, is on board with it’s distinctive branding and colours, while matches will be shown on the same platforms as Veikkausliiga.

The old Naisten Liiga logo

Reaction has been generally positive – Finland again striving for equality in pay and conditions, while another news story this week relayed how some Finnish clubs are leading the way in links between injury and menstruation. There has been some noise regarding the name given. The National League is vague, doesn’t translate any better in Swedish and that it’s not distinctive enough in it’s own right. I don’t know what an alternative would be, but at least it’s not Subway Liiga…

Suomen Palloliitto (the Finnish Football Association) have clearly been driven this way by their head of development for women’s football Heidi Pihjala, who said “The sporting world has become accustomed to talking about sport in a way that indicates there is sport and then women’s sport, football and women’s football.”

It’s heading in the right direction – now for the next step. Get to another Euros or a first World Cup, progress in the Champions League and perhaps a single player with the power to inspire the next group of future Helmarit stars. Higher profile matches, hopefully with larger attendances and a proper drive at junior level… My daughters may have some competition for their places.

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