Finland Soccer Betting Odds
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Nicknames: Huuhkajat "Eagle-Owls"
Head coach: Mixu Paatelainen
Captain: Petri Pasanen
Most caps: Jari Litmanen (137)
Top scorer: Jari Litmanen (32)
Home stadium: Helsinki Olympic Stadium
After ice hockey, football is the second most popular sport in Finland, but compared with the winter sport, its popularity has grown significantly, especially among younger generations. By the end of 2002, the «All Stars» youth programme, which was introduced in 1998 in an effort to offer every boy and girl across the nation the opportunity to play football, had increased the number of children playing the sport by 44.3%. The F.U.N. programme, which was launched in collaboration with the Ministry for Education in 2001 in order to promote women's football, has also been extremely successful. As a direct result of the initiative, the number of female players registered with the national association has increased by 17%. Other successes include the nation's first-ever hosting of a FIFA competition (FIFA U-17 World Championship 2003) and qualification for the FIFA World Youth Championship Argentina 2001.
UEFA World Cup Qualifiers
The Union of European Football Associations, almost always referred to by its acronym UEFA is the administrative and controlling body for European association football, futsal and beach soccer. UEFA represents most of the national football associations of Europe, runs national and club competitions in its area, and controls the prize money, regulations and media rights to those competitions. Due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia transcontinental nations such as Turkey, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, and Russia, are members of the UEFA rather than AFC, as are Israel and Cyprus which lie entirely in Asia.