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1 Mar, 2022 10:12

Russian hockey officials decry ‘discriminatory’ ban

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation has responded to sanctions from international governing body the IIHF
Russian hockey officials decry ‘discriminatory’ ban

A suspension imposed on Russian and Belarusian ice hockey teams is “discriminatory and contrary to the spirit of the sport,” the Russian Ice Hockey Federation has said, after the sport’s international governing body announced a series of sanctions on Monday.  

Amid the conflict in Ukraine, teams of all ages from Russia and Belarus have been suspended “until further notice” by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which also announced it would not be hosting the 2023 World Junior Championship in Russia.

However, the organization did not refer to the 2023 Men’s World Championship which is scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg in May of next year.

Russian officials have reacted with anger and dismay to the IIHF’s measures, asserting that it could challenge the sanctions at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

“The Russian Ice Hockey Federation considers this decision to be discriminatory and contrary to the spirit of the sport,” read a statement.

“Sport has always served the purpose of uniting the peoples of different countries and continents, regardless of any differences and disagreements. 

“Such a decision could roll back the development of hockey by decades due to the split of the hockey community.

“The [Russian Ice Hockey Federation] strongly disagrees with the decision of the IIHF Council and reserves the right to appeal it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

In its statement, the IIHF claimed it was acting “out of concern for the health and well-being of all participating players, officials, and fans,” by removing the 2023 Junior World Championship from Russia, which was due to be held in December of this year and January of next year.   

The organization also accused Russia of breaching the ‘Olympic Truce’ by launching military action in Ukraine.  

Elsewhere on Monday, North American ice hockey league the NHL announced it was suspending relationships with business partners in Russia and “pausing” its Russian language social and digital media sites.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has recommended that federations across all sports not hold events in Russia or Belarus, or invite athletes from the two countries to compete at global tournaments.

Football governing bodies FIFA and UEFA have also suspended all Russian teams from their competitions until further notice.

Russian sporting officials and politicians have widely decried the sanctions as politicizing sport and acting in a discriminatory way against Russian athletes.