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The Russians and Belarusians will not play in hockey championships next year either

The national teams of Russia and Belarus will not play in the International Hockey Federation (IIHF) tournaments due to the invasion of Ukraine in the next season 2022/23. This was stated by the head of the federation, Luc Tardif, at today’s press conference in Tampere, where the IIHF congress took place during the World Cup. The excluded countries do not agree with the decision.

“We believed that the situation would improve, so we waited as long as possible. But no change came and we had to come to a clear conclusion before the next season. And that is that Russia and Belarus will no longer participate in our The exclusion of both teams has been reflected from top to bottom in the whole structure.

At the end of February, the IIHF leadership suspended the participation of national teams and clubs from both countries in all events in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, in which Belarus also participates. This decision was valid until further notice, and the same is true given the ongoing war.

“We will have another congress in September and we will deal with it again, but now we can really only wait. In the future we will decide how to return Russia and Belarus to our tournaments. It will be a dilemma and a difficult solution. But I hope it will as soon as possible, as this will mean that the conflict situation is better, “Tardif said.

The Russian Hockey Federation does not agree with the IIHF’s decision because, in its opinion, there are no legal reasons for it.

“We thought that the previously submitted application to the IIHF Disciplinary Committee due to questioning Russia’s non-participation in international tournaments and the return of the World Cup in 2023 should not be decided until June 15,” the Russians said in a statement.

According to the Belarusian federation, this is another decision made by the IIHF under pressure from national federations, which it says are held hostage by Western politicians. “Once again, the IIHF violated all the principles of Olympism under the guise of our security,” the Belarusians said. They want to appeal against the decision.

“Russia is undoubtedly still a very important part of the top group. It is seven certain matches that are of high quality. They bring with them both fans and partners. Of course, they cannot be easily replaced. But most importantly – they clearly belong to the championship in terms of hockey. However, the entire IIHF Council is behind the current decision, “said Petr Bříza, First Vice-Chairman of the IIHF, in an interview with journalists.

“Now we have decided that Russia and Belarus will not play all next season. We have one congress in September, another in May, which gives us some room to predict how the situation will develop. We will see what the implications for next season will be. the conflict will continue and everything will develop, as is unfortunately still the case, so in a year we can make exactly the same decision here in Tampere for the next season, “Bříza admitted.

According to him, preventing the participation of both countries in the tournaments is a solution that will ensure the safety and integrity of the championship. “In the current situation, I can’t imagine any Russian team playing in tournaments in Europe. Imagine 18-year-old boys building 80 bodyguards and a special forces unit to bring them back to the winter and back. It’s not a sport.” said Birch.

He knows that it will not be easy to reintegrate the Russian and Belarusian national teams back into the future.

“I think that if another suspension comes in a year (for the 2023/24 season), there will be a big debate about where to place them. Whether with that ranking or otherwise. “We would devalue the tournaments for five years. And we will face pressure from the pressure that the decisions are discriminatory,” he said.

“It will really be a dilemma, a sports-technical dilemma of how to work them back. At the big world championships, it’s about whether we can play that one year with more teams. “We have to make sure that the teams under the elite group have a reason to play tournaments again, that it makes sense and that we maintain some continuity of procedures and relegations,” Bříza added.

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