Finnish taxpayers are footing the bill for the funeral of former ski jumper Matti Nykänen to the tune of €20,000, with the budget earmarked to cover a range of expenses.
Nykänen died at the beginning of February, and in the days following his death Minister of Culture and Sport Sampo Tehro (Blue) said he should be given a state funeral. His family said that wasn’t what they wanted, before agreeing to an offer that the state could pay for the funeral instead.
A celebrity-backed ice hockey charity organisation called Pietarinkadun Oilers also offered to pay for the cost of the funeral, but ultimately said they were happy for the state to foot the bill.
Nykänen’s funeral took place on Saturday 2nd March, and now the Ministry of Education and Culture confirms to News Now Finland that the budget is intended to pay for items such as the burial, a headstone, food and drinks at the wake; and potentially any additional security required on the route of the cortege through the streets of Jyväskylä.
Matti Nykänen’s family didn’t receive the discretionary €20,000 funeral fund directly, rather, vendors have to send their invoices to the Ministry for payment.
They city of Jyväskylä is planning to build a statue in his honour.
Nykänen’s perfect career, and imperfect life
Matti Nykänen is widely considered one of the finest ski jump athletes of all time, winning five Winter Olympic medals – one gold and a silver at the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics; and three more golds four years later in Calgary.
He won nine World Championship medals including five golds during his career from 1981 to 1989; and notched up 46 World Cup competition wins, including the overall title four times. He also claimed 22 Finnish championship medals on his way to becoming the only ski jumper to win all five of the sport’s biggest events.
However, Nykänen’s life away from the ski jump world was far from golden.
Troubled by alcoholism, and plagued with legal run-ins that saw him serve prison time for spousal abuse and for violent assaults, Nykänen had trouble coping with fame and life after sports.
He spent more than two years behind bars after stabbing a friend in 2004; and another 16 months for assaulting his wife in 2009.
His alcoholism, lurid private life and years of criminality became constant fodder for Finnish tabloids as the former golden boy of the ski jumping world was repeatedly arrested on accusations of assault, abusing his partner by strangling her, and manslaughter – although the latter charge was dropped due to insufficient evidence.
Nykänen found moderate success as a pop singer and released three albums, and performed just a few days before his death to an enthusiastic small crowd at a Helsinki restaurant.