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  Friday, 12 July, 2002, 13:37 GMT 14:37 UK
Stuck in the mud
Finland gears up for the swamp football World Cup
The football World Cup is not over.

In fact, in Finland it is only just beginning as the leading nations from across the globe gear up for the swamp football World Cup.

Unlike Sven-Goran Eriksson's men, this England team have failed to qualify for the event, while their Scottish rivals have been more successful.

The Scots will tackle the hosts Finland, Russia and Germany among others.


I can reassure all our fans that the Scottish side will be taking it seriously and are aiming for a victory
Mark Middleton

The sport itself follows exactly the same rules as football but is played on a muddy bog.

And Scottish captain Mark Middleton argues that the wet conditions in his country allow the perfect preparation for him and his team-mates.

The 29-year-old told the Daily Record: "We are naturally disappointed we will not have the chance to give England a sound beating.

"But I can reassure all our fans that the Scottish side will be taking it seriously and are aiming for a victory."

Swamp football lends its origins to Finland, where it was invented by the Finnish army in the Nineties.

And Finland is fast becoming a country renowned for its eccentric sporting prowess.

The swamp football World Cup kicks off just a week after the Wife Carrying World Championship.

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson's exploits were not matched by the swamp footballers

The sprint contest involved men covering a 235-metre course while carrying their wives on their backs or shoulders.

Obstacles on route to the top spot include log barriers and a water zone.

Couples in this year's competition ranged from South Koreans to Estonians.

This year's winner clocked a time of one minute and six seconds. His prize was a barrel of beer equal to his wife's weight.

Other more unusual Finnish pastimes include the much-loved sport of killing as many mosquitoes as possible in a designated time.

Another sees competitors sweat it out in a sauna to see who can last the longest in the hot conditions.

Links to more Funny Old Game stories are at the foot of the page.


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