Jokerit, one of Finland's top ice hockey clubs, is considering legal action against the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat for the "inappropriate use of their logo" in its front cover, national broadcaster Yle reported.
The September issue of Helsingin Sanomat's monthly magazine, Kuukausiliite, featured Vladimir Putin's smiling face on top of Jokerit's usual team logo. Jokerit translates into English as "jokers," and the team plays in the KHL international league, founded by Russia.
"This is clearly a copy of our logo, there's nothing more to say about that point," Jokerit majority owner Harry Harkimo told Yle. "I think it's unbelievable that one can take someone else's logo and change it every which way they want. I don't think that Helsingin Sanomat would like their logo to be doctored with the face of [US President Donald] Trump or [Finnish Prime Minister Juha] Sipilä, Harkimo added.
Harkimo stressed that the newspaper never asked for permission to use the logo.
"They can write what they want, but they can't do anything they want to our logo," Harkimo said, pledging to look at the situation with the club's lawyers. "You can't change someone's logo how you want. We will not let this stand," Harkimo stressed.
Creative use of Finland's top hockey team #Jokerit logo by Finland's biggest newspaper @hsfi. The team may threaten the paper with legal consequences. A legal battle could further highlight the team's links to #Putin. For a team that claims Finnish identity, that might be tricky. pic.twitter.com/27AKbB9oHA— Teivo Teivainen (@TeivoTeivainen) September 1, 2018
Helsinki University world politics professor Teivo Teivanen ventured that a legal battle could further highlight the team's alleged "links to Putin," which he called "tricky" for a team that claims Finnish identity.
In 2013, Jokerit, six-time champions of the Finnish league, joined the KHL, becoming the first Nordic club to do so. Consequently, 49 percent of the club itself and its home area was sold to Russian investors, while Harkomo retained his 51 percent stake.
The edition of Kuukausiliite featuring the divisive front cover ran an article about Jokerit's "Russian connections," as its joint owners include Russian businessmen Boris and Roman Rothenberg.
Helsingin Sanomat's editor Kaius Niemi said the decision to use the "clearly satirical" altered logo was carefully considered by the editorial staff, stressing that it's impossible to confuse it with the original.
During its KHL period, Jokerit won a division title, while setting the league's attendance record.
Founded in 2008, the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) is an international professional ice hockey league that comprises 25 member clubs from Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Finland and China and has plans for further expansion. It is widely considered to the foremost ice hockey league in Europe and Asia, and second only to North America's NHL.