COLOGNE - The IIHF President reacted to a story titled “Saying no to your country” which appeared on IIHF.com on Wednesday. “The tone and the timing were ill chosen. We understand that many players and club administrators or owners took exception to this column,” said René Fasel.
On Thursday, René Fasel apologized to Sidney Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson for the column. Crosby, along with other players from other countries, was criticized for not coming to the IIHF World Championship despite being available.
The column, written by IIHF Communications Director Szymon Szemberg, has since removed from the website.
“There are many things in the world of hockey that should be discussed but this column was an inappropriate way to do it and the timing was also bad. We are in the last phase of a successful World Championship and the focus should be on the teams and the players who have played in front of almost 500.000 fans so far,” said Fasel.
“I sympathize with the players who were singled out in the column and I understand the frustration of the club owners who felt that their players received unjustified criticism,” said Fasel. If things must be discussed, we must find other ways and the way to do it is to have a dialogue with players, federations, leagues, club owners and others. And this is exactly what we had in mind when we planned the World Hockey Summit in Toronto in August.”
“What erupted here on Thursday was a virtual earthquake and many people voiced very strong reactions upon having read the column,” said the IIHF President. “This is the reason we made the decision to take the column down from our website.”
Fasel hopes that the incident won’t distract from the fact that 2010 has been an excellent year for international hockey.
“In February, we had the best Olympics ever with a quality of hockey and a world-wide viewership that even exceeded lofty expectations. Only two months later we organized a World Championship were the opening game draws a world record audience of almost 78.000 fans, where we are closing in on the magic number 500.000 fans and where the host team has created national hockey euphoria in a country that usually only manages to rally masses for soccer.”
“It has indeed been a great year for the players who staged the show and for all of us who work behind the scenes. Let’s now move on without being distracted by an isolated emotional outburst on our website. We still have in front of us what should be four excellent games and let us all shift the spotlight on the teams and players from Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and Russia.”