Why do migrants have too little say over their matters in Finland?

by , under Enrique Tessieri

The Finnish ministry of education allocated 1.3 million euros in 2015 compared with 1.2 million euros the previous year to support migrants in sports, according to YLE. Despite such sums of money migrants and their children still face obstacles like discrimination and racism in sports.

Discrimination today in Finnish sports appears as exclusion, name-calling, insults, even violence in some cases.

Despite the challenges, sports can play a big role in helping a migrant make new friends and adapt to his or her new homeland.  

Näyttökuva 2015-3-21 kello 21.51.16
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Nelli Kuokka of Valo, a physical education association, admits that there are many problems that migrants and their children face.

“These situations arise from peoples’ fears and from Finnish reticence,” she was quoted as saying on YLE. “We are not good at welcoming people with open arms. Immigrants in sports face racism as well, and we have to do everything we can to change that.”

She said that especially African migrants and refugees are the most vulnerable to racism in sports.

“Estonians and Russians, who are perceived to be nearer to Finns culturally, don’t get as much flak,” said Kuokka.

While the Valo official believes that municipal sports departments can play an important role in improving the situation of migrants, some are not that convinced.

One of the problems is that there is still too little participation and leadership by migrants and their sports associations. Who else could better understand the challenges faced by migrants in sports than migrants themselves?

There are many explanations why migrants still have too little say in their affairs. One of these, and taking into account the present anti-immigration climate in this country, is that white Finns are still mistrustful of giving too much power to migrants.

Could it be that the most “dangerous” migrant in some Finns’ eyes is a person that can speak out, knows and can demand his or her rights?

This is why some are skeptical of the impact of  the 1.3 million euros to improve the situation of migrants in sports.

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