Skip to Content

The Finnish motorsports association Suomen Moottoriliitto and women’s motocross competition classes (TAS 136/2021, issued on 7 June 2021)

The Ombudsman for Equality was asked to investigate if the actions of the Finnish motorsports association Suomen Moottoriliitto were in accordance with the Act on Equality between Women and Men, when it did not grant a Finnish national championship series for women’s motocross class.

In its report, Suomen Moottoriliitto stated that it was implementing a plan to promote gender equality and prevent discrimination in its operations. Issues related to gender equality are important in all of the association’s activities, and it always approaches them with the seriousness required by the topic. In its activities, the association aims to take gender equality and the wishes of those involved in the sport into account in order to develop the sport.

Suomen Moottoriliitto also stated that it has not received a request or proposal on the matter. If one had been submitted to it, the request would have been sent to be processed by the sport-specific group as well as the association’s working group on equality and women’s commission, and further by the working committee and the association’s Board of Directors.

The women’s competition class was raised from a national class to the Suomen Cup (Finnish Cup) level starting from 2017. This has not had a positive effect on the number of competitors. As a result, the sport-specific group for motocross found that the small number of female competitors does not support raising the class from the current Suomen Cup to the Finnish national championship level.

In his statement, the Ombudsman for Equality stated that it was positive that Suomen Moottoriliitto has started to investigate the matter actively after the association became aware of it. Based on the reports received, the Ombudsman for Equality found that the practice by Suomen Moottoriliitto of only organising a Suomen Cup level motocross series for women cannot be considered a violation of the prohibitions against discrimination of the Act on Equality between Women and Men. Suomen Moottoriliitto has justified its practice both by the small number of participants in the women’s motocross class as well as the competitors only transferring into the Finnish national championship series after enough competitive success. In the opinion of the Ombudsman for Equality, these are acceptable grounds for there not being a Finnish national championship class available for women. 

However, the current situation cannot be considered to promote gender equality, to which Moottoriliitto has committed in accordance with its equality plan, among other things. The requirement of actual equal opportunities being realised should also be taken into account when making decisions on competition classes.  Therefore, the Ombudsman for Equality expressed a wish that Suomen Moottoriliitto would consider the option of approving a progressive practice with regard to gender equality, in which the rank of Finnish national championship would also be granted to the women’s motocross series. This would send a clear message that everyone involved in the sport, regardless of gender, has the opportunity to gain equal recognition for their performance in competition. 

After the statement of the Ombudsman for Equality was issued, the Board of Suomen Moottoriliitto approved a policy on 4 August 2021, according to which the women’s class of every motorsport included in the association, in which competition classes intended separately for women are driven, must have an opportunity to compete for the Finnish national championship starting from the 2022 season.