Finnish football has lost one of its most prominent figures in former Football Association of Finland (SPL-FBF) president Pekka Hämäläinen, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 74 after a long illness.
Pekka Hämäläinen was a vastly respected servant of football in Finland, and his term as SPL-FBF president from 1997 to 2009 was the second longest in the association's history. He was also influential within international football – serving in particular as a member of the UEFA Committee for the European Championship (1998–2000), as vice-chairman of the Assistance Programmes Committee (2000–06), and as chairman of the same committee (2006–07).
He went on to become first vice-chairman of the UEFA Legal Committee from 2007–11, before joining the Amicale des Anciens circle of former UEFA committee members in 2012 – the same year he was named SPL-FBF honorary president. During his term as president, Finland hosted three UEFA final tournaments – Under-18 in 2001, Women's Under-19 in 2004 and Women's EURO in 2009 – as well as the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2003.
Pekka Hämäläinen also enjoyed a fruitful playing career. He won the Finnish championship with HIFK Helsinki in 1961, and worked for that club in various capacities. The current SPL-FBF president Pertti Alaja paid a warm tribute. "We have lost a person whose merits in developing football in Finland are enormous," he said. "We will all deeply miss Pekka, who was a true servant of the game. He had a heart of football gold. His good humour always touched everyone around him. There is so much we should thank him for."
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