The coach offered vegetables to the children, was accused of humiliating them – Such cases have been dealt with in the Finnish sports court

In his latest book, Olli Rauste explores the legalization of sports and the new era of dealing with ethical violations.

The coach, after hearing two of his trainees, had offered to “fix things” and commented on the third trainee’s buttocks and underwear during the exercises. The coach had also told his female coachee that “they would become straight if they were dressed properly”.

This is one of the cases handled in Finland, which the deputy judge, an expert in sports law Olli Rauste perka in his freshly baked book Towards ethical sport.

The Sports Legal Protection Board considered the expressions disturbing. However, the coach was acquitted of the harassment charge.

– Harassment cases can sometimes be multifaceted, Rauste writes.

– Those who were targeted by the coach’s behavior, which was considered disturbing, had themselves participated in bold and sexually tinged messaging. The messages sent by another athlete to his coach had also included pictures and videos of the athlete in various situations.

A case of vegetables

The trainer wanted to offer his trainees healthy snacks. Three years later, the case was investigated. JARNO JUTI

The coach had made the vegetable portions for his three athletes. Three years later, the coach was accused of humiliating athletes. It was a bigger case about weight management.

During the training, the coach had expressed his concern that if the athletes do not eat any food after the school meal, until they get home late in the evening after the training, the lack of food will predispose them to eat unhealthily at the end of the day. The coach urged the athletes to take some healthy snacks with them during training so that they wouldn’t eat too much in the evening.

The athletes told the coach about their rush from school to practice.

The coach replied that he can bring healthy snacks to the athletes as a model for the next evening’s training. None of the three expressed opposition to the idea. The coach also inquired about the suitability of his idea from the team’s psychological coach, who thought the idea was good. After that, the coach prepared three boxes of vegetables at home and gave them to the three athletes in question during the following training sessions.

The disciplinary committee found that bringing a box of vegetables as a snack to training did not violate the disciplinary rules of that association.

– The case concerning the vegetable boxes shows how differently different people can experience what is humiliating and what is not, Rauste points out.

– Humiliation is a very subjective experience based on the case.

Message channel case

Can an athlete who has ended his career be removed from the team’s communication channels??

– One of the strangest accusations made against a coach in real-life disciplinary decisions has been the accusation that the coach had violated the ethical principles of sports when he had removed from the common communication channels of the team he was coaching people who had already finished their sports career and were no longer members of the team, Rauste writes.

– As expected, the disciplinary body considered that removing athletes who have finished their careers from the team’s common communication channels was permissible and did not violate the ethical principles of sports.


In his 450-page discussion, Rauste presents the reader with dozens of cases, many of which are already known to the public. He sums up in his closing chapter that “a new era has begun in dealing with ethical violations in sports”.

– Today, the most diverse situations can end up being evaluated as a possible ethical violation by a sports disciplinary body. Violation of the ethical principles of sports, in light of the real-life examples described above, includes the most diverse new “criminal titles”, for which disciplinary procedures have not previously been used in sports.

Behind the change is the #metoo movement. Improperties are dared to be addressed.

– What might have been acceptable ten years ago, is no longer necessarily so in the era of the current ethical principles of sports.

Rauste sees that sport is legalized.

– Situations that occur in sports activities, which were previously used to be handled in accordance with the rules of everyday life regarding human interaction between people, are today increasingly evaluated by legal means as violations of the rules possibly leading to disciplinary punishments, he writes.

– In the good old days, a genuine apology was almost always enough to atone for inappropriate behavior. The initiation of official disciplinary proceedings was resorted to only in exceptional cases.


Olli Rauste is an expert in sports law. Tiina Somerpuro / Financial life

Rauste ponders who wants and dares to act as a coach soon, if “the current avalanche of stories about inappropriate behavior continues and intensifies” and if “the work done with children and young people for little compensation may be subject to Suek’s investigation or, in extreme cases, even disciplinary proceedings”.

– Avoidance of ethical violations must not become an absolute value in the activities of coaches. If, for example, every time a coach opens his mouth, he has to primarily think about how I can say it so that no one would report anything, then he has strayed far from the purpose of sports activities, Rauste sees.

– Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of Finnish sports coaches are still able to enjoy the valuable and rewarding educational work they do with children and young people.

The italicized passages are excerpts from the disciplinary decisions found in Olli Rauste’s book Towards Ethical Sports (Tietosanoma).