Finnish HJK premier division football coach considers German team “arbeit macht frei”

by , under Enrique Tessieri

Right after the USA-Germany game, Helsinki football team HJK coach Mika Lehkosuo sticks his foot in his mouth by quoting a Nazi phrase, arbeit macht frei, when asked how the German team played. The Nazi slogan, which means “work makes you free,” was found at the gates of a number of concentration camps like Auschwitz during World War 2.

To add salt to mortal injury to the millions of Jews, Roma and other Nazi victims that perished at such death camps, the host bursts out in laughter after Lehkosuo’s comment.

This comment that the HJK coach made is a good example of how racist and homophobic jokes are made at work or other public places. The person making the comment doesn’t understand or cares if what was said was offensive. Instead of reacting to what was said, listeners give their seal of approval with a smile, laughter or silence.


If I were Lehkosuo, I’d apologize for what he said. It’s the least he could do. More importantly, he’d be setting an example that such Nazi slogans are unacceptable.

UPDATE: And that is exactly what he did in a statement (in Finnish). He said that his comment wasn’t supposed to be linked to Nazi Germany. “Using hindsight, it’s clear that I shouldn’t have used that phrase [in the first place],” he said.

In April, Rovaniemi premier division football coach Juha Malinen apologized for stating that he had  “most [white] Finnish” team in the league.

“A few years ago RoPS had thirteen black men [players],” he was quoted as saying on tabloid Iltalehti. “…We now have players whose names can be pronounced correctly and who Finns know…”

Thank you Rasmus for the heads-up!