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Finland's women's football league given gender-neutral new name

Telegraph Sport
Finland have renamed their women's league top-flight Kansallinen Liiga, meaning National League
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A year after announcing equal pay for men and women footballers, the Football Association of Finland have confirmed they are renaming the highest division formerly known as 'Women's League' to become the gender-neutral Kansallinen Liiga, meaning National League. 

Last summer’s Fifa Women’s World Cup proved that people do not base their interest in football on the gender of the players," Ari Lahti, president of the Football Association of Finland said.

"People come to the games to see top athletes play quality football. That is why women’s football should be treated equally with men’s football.”

“Reaching full equality in sports still demands a ton of hard work. Our sincere wish is that other leagues both in Finland and globally will follow our lead. We aspire to be a pioneer of equality in the eyes of the whole sports community.”

Heidi Pihlaja, the Head of women’s Football Development of the governing body in Finland said the change "symbolises a bigger cultural change".

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“It is common within the sports community to talk about sports and women’s sports as if the latter would be less worthy when this of course is not the case. Football is football – no matter who kicks the ball. Some might see changing the name as insignificant but actually it is a strong statement that symbolises a bigger cultural change within the sports community and our society," she said. 

The Football Association of Finland last year made clear their ambitions on equality and competitiveness for the upcoming three seasons.    

"We are not only building a more equal society but also reclaiming the potential that lies in women’s football. We are looking forward to continuing the development of football as a sport for all genders while at the same time increasing inclusivity and recognising its potential to grow,”  Pihlaja added.