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Friday’s papers: Travel refunds, leadership race and Finland’s football bubble bursts | Yle Uutiset


Finland’s Eagle-owls kick off Nations League campaign in a match against Wales at Helsinki’s newly-renovated–but empty of fans–Olympic Stadium on Thursday evening.

Image: Lehtikuva / Markku Ulander

Tabloid Iltalehti reports that many people in Finland are still awaiting refunds for flights and package holidays that were cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in the spring.

Under normal circumstances, compensation for cancelled flights must be paid by airlines within seven days and tour operators should refund customers within 14 days of the cancellation of a trip.

Now however, IL writes, we are living far from normal circumstances.

Finland’s beleaguered national airline Finnair, for example, has dealt with more claims over the last six months than it usually receives over the course of three years.

“In connection with the publication of our interim report at the end of July, we announced that payments of 270 million euros have already been made to customers, and it is estimated that approximately 100 million euros is still to be paid,” Finnair’s Mari Kanerva told IL via email.

Satu Toepfer, a manager at the Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority, says about 3,000 people have contacted the agency so far this year with regard to cancelled flights or trips due to the coronavirus crisis, but all customers can do is wait.

“The Consumer Ombudsman has called on travel agents and airlines to ensure the proper functioning of customer service, clear customer communication and the organisation of return processes so that timetables reach the statutory norm,” Toepfer says.

Centre Party to elect chair

Helsingin Sanomat previews the Centre Party’s conference due to take place this weekend, where members will decide if current chair Katri Kulmuni should remain in her position or if one of the three challengers are a better option to lead the party into next year’s municipal elections.

Kulmuni’s leadership of the party has been in jeopardy since her resignation as Minister of Finance after it was revealed that she had spent 50,000 euros of public money on media and communications training courses.

HS writes that a survey of party members taken at the start of August found that Minister of Science and Culture Annika Saarikko is the front runner to become the new party chair, with an estimated 39 percent support compared to Kulmuni’s 35 percent. Vice-chair Petri Honkonen and media entrepreneur Ilkka Tiainen have also thrown their hats into the ring.

Responding to a HS questionnaire, both Kulmuni and Saarikko cited inequality as being the biggest challenge facing Finland at the moment.

“Too many problems accumulate for the same group of people on too many metrics. Examples are intergenerational unemployment, on the one hand, and regional disparities, on the other, such as the availability of services,” Saarikko said.

Eagle-owls brought down to earth

Virtually all of Friday morning’s papers, including tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, carry reports on the Finnish football team’s first competitive home fixture since qualification for the 2020, now 2021, European Championships was secured.

Expectations were high as the team–nicknamed the Eagle-owls–kicked off their Nations League campaign in the newly-renovated, albeit empty, Olympic Stadium while wearing a newly-designed kit on Thursday evening.

All did not go to plan however, as visitors Wales secured all three points thanks to a Kieffer Moore goal after 80 minutes.

The team’s new shirt, white with a navy blue gradient cross design, did however catch the attention of the Bishop of the Diocese of Helsinki Teemu Laajasalo, who tweeted his appreciation of the “excellent product placement”, IS writes.

The tabloid also bemoaned the lack of a crowd, and therefore atmosphere, as being a potential factor in Finland’s inability to find an equaliser as time ran out.

“Perhaps the pursuit would have been more productive if the terraces had been filled with 30,000 spectators,” IS concludes.

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Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport.