Rene Fasel was a former ice hockey referee. Born in Switzerland, he is a dentist and was President of the International Ice Hockey Federation from 1991 to 2021. He is known for his sympathies and good relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At the ice hockey tournament as part of the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, he kept his fingers crossed for Russia’s Olympic selection in the final against Finland. In the past he has also often met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who supports the Ukraine war.
The International Ice Hockey Federation has taken the consequences and excluded Russia from the Ice Hockey World Championships in Finland. Ex-President Rene Fasel criticized this approach in an interview with the Russian medium “championat.ru”: “In the past there were many wars. So there were a few ways to exclude countries. But we didn’t do that,” says the Swiss. The Soviet Union also played against the USA and Canada during the Cold War.
In addition, Fasel hopes that the politicians will find a common solution. “War is never a solution. You shouldn’t misuse the sport for sanctions either,” emphasized Fasel. It is clear from these statements that under Fasel’s leadership there would have been no sanctions. Former Canadian-French ice hockey player Luc Tardif is currently President of the IIHF. In any case, Fasel cited the founder of the Winter Olympics, Pierre de Coubertin, as an example: “Sport is a way of bringing people together. When Coubertin created the Olympic Games in 1896, he did it to bring people together. That is the meaning of the sport,” the Swiss continued.
In any case, Russia and Belarus want to take action against the exclusion at this year’s Ice Hockey World Championships in Finland (May 13 to 29) and reserve the right to appeal against this at the International Sports Court. In any case, the Ice Hockey World Championship 2023 will take place in Russia. Current IIHF President Luc Tardiff remains optimistic and, if the war is over by then, wants to get back to business as usual. Russia remains the venue for the 2023 World Cup.