The ultimate World Championship event: football played on a swamp in Finland

The New York Times published a wonderful article on a sport that is so strange I instantly wanted to travel to the village where they play it to view a live game. Football that is played on a swamp, or swamp soccer. It is played in Finland where certain regions are covered with large marshlands. They even have the Swamp Soccer World Championship tournament every July.

Swamp football in Finland. Photo by joanita / ajastaika.comI have to travel to Hyrynsalmi, Central Finland to witness the live swamp soccer event. This year, the championship tournament was played the 20th time. About 2000 people traveled to the swamp area surrounded by seemingly endless forests. The number of mosquitoes in a place like that is endless, I can tell from my experience in a similar place in Finland.

The swamp has to be the right kind of marshland. If it is too wet, players can’t move. Too hard, and the game becomes too easy.

Swamp soccer in Finland. Photo by joanita /
All teams don’t seem to be taking the game too seriously, but focus on having a good time. It means beer, vodka, sauna and swimming in a lake. The Midnight Sun allows playing swamp soccer and sauna parties long after midnight.

A humorous book describes Finland and especially Finnish culture the way an American author sees it. Among many other things, The Lighter Side of Finland talks about swamp football and other oddities of this Nordic country.

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