The Veikkausliiga is the first league of Finnish football and comprises the twelve best clubs in the country. The main sponsor is the Finnish National Betting Agency Veikkaus, hence the name of the league. The Veikkausliiga was founded in 1990. Prior to that, the top league since 1930 was called Mestaruussarja (championship series) and was an amateur or semi-professional league. Between 1908 and 1930, the championship was decided in a cup competition.
Ykkönen (Division 1) has been the second highest level of Finnish football since 1973.
In the seasons 1990 and 1991, the Veikkausliiga was played under the name "Futisliiga" (Swedish: Fotbollsligan).
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As in some other European countries with a cold climate, league games are also held in Finland in the summer, usually from April to October. The format and number of teams have changed frequently, and as of 2016, there are 12 teams, each playing three games against the other and making 33 rounds of the season. The top six teams last season play 17 home games, while the other six teams play 16 home games. At the end of the season, the worst ranked team descends to Ykkönen, whose winners have risen to the Veikkausliiga, and the second worst team plays a two-legged play-off against Ykkönen runner-up.
In 2010, the average annual salary with fringe benefits for a league player was 24,400 euros. Veikkausliiga is a founding member of the European Association of Professional Football Leagues.
National team: After the civil war of 1918, the Finnish sports movement was divided into the right-wing Finnish Gymnastics and Sports Federation (SVUL) and the left-wing Finnish Workers' Sports Federation (TUL). The Finnish Football Association was a member of the SVUL. Both teams had their own championship series, and between 1919 and 1939 the Finnish national team was selected only by players of the Football Association. The football team of the Finnish Workers 'Sport Association again took part in the competitions of the international workers' movement.
Since the late 1920s, however, several top football players left TUL and joined the Football Association to qualify for the national team. In the 1930s, these "defectors" formed the backbone of the national team. For example, the Finnish squad at the 1936 Summer Olympics consisted of eight former TUL players. In 1937 Finland took part in the FIFA World Cup qualifying for the first time and lost all three games against Sweden, Germany and Estonia.
Since 1939 TUL players were elected to the national team and finally in 1956 the series TUL and Football Association were merged.
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