TOKYO – IIHF President René Fasel outlined his platform for the upcoming four-year period and identified eight areas of priority and challenges.
These are the eight areas which IIHF President identified as the most vital to address for him and the new Council during the 2012-2016 mandate period.
IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program
“We are facing some challenges with the new World Championship format with two groups in the top division and also the issue with co-hosting. We must stay flexible and always be able to adjust things if we see that they don’t work.”
“It must be remembered that we spend twenty million [all figures in CHF] on our World Championship program. Thirteen out of those are spent on the lower divisions as travel support, host organizer’s support and other expenses. We are the only major team sport federation that organizes a full World Championship program every year and I believe we should keep this.”
“But the smaller nations must realize that without the success and drawing power of the big nations at the World Championship and Olympics we would not have been able to do that. The money for all championship events below the top division is generated by the big nations. Without success at the top this structure will not work.”
“When I was the president of the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation in the early ‘90s, everything was easy. The federations controlled the leagues and the clubs. It’s not the case anymore. The leagues have become more and more independent, so have the clubs and this to the point where the leagues don’t even control the clubs.”
“In order to have a sustainable system, we need to work together to grow the game and to fulfil our potential. We started a new era with the Hockey Forum in Barcelona last spring where we for the first time invited the leagues and clubs to discuss how we can move forward. We have formed working groups which will come with proposals how to create a new European club competition and how to reform the national team breaks.”
“Furthermore, we will have to find ways how to incorporate the leagues and the clubs into our structure so all stakeholders have a say. The IIHF regulations must also stay compliant and compatible with EU laws. Simply, we must follow international law.”
Kontinental Hockey League
“I have had many discussions with [KHL President] Alexander Medvedev about the KHL’s role since the league’s foundation and the KHL has maybe sometimes been a headache for others. But there is no question that without the KHL we might not have had top professional club hockey in countries like Latvia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and now Ukraine.”
“Now also Slovan Bratislava from Slovakia has joined the KHL and the management tells me that the club could never survive as a top European challenger had it stayed in the Slovak league. So we see concrete examples where the KHL has been very good when it comes to keeping and upgrading top club hockey in several countries.”
“Having said that, we must keep a dialogue with the KHL regarding the league’s expansion plans to the west, making sure that we find solutions that are good for everyone involved.”
“We have a great opportunity to improve Korean ice hockey with PyeongChang being awarded the 2018 Olympic Winter Games and we need to seize the opportunity. To improve the standard of Korean ice hockey leading up to 2018 is one of our greatest challenges.”
“China is a sleeping giant. The country has over one billion inhabitants and 300 male hockey players. There is so much to be done in this country. I am very confident that our new Vice President Thomas Wu from Hong Kong can assume the same leading role in Asia as his predecessor Shoichi Tomita did during his long tenure on the Council.”
National Hockey League
“The goal must be to always maintain a good working relationship with the NHL. Right now the league has a labour conflict with the players’ union and the effect of this is a dream for European hockey fans as many of their favourite players are back in the European leagues.”
“But this also comes at a possible expense of sportive integrity. Maybe all these players will leave in December and those players who lost their positions to the NHLers must be asked to come back. How motivated are they to come back after having lost a job in September?”
“Once the conflict is over, we must very soon sit down and discuss conditions for Sochi 2014 participation. It is my goal to have a fifth consecutive best-on-best Olympics in Russia.”
“On longer term, we must together find a solution on the issue of transfer compensation for European players who leave for the NHL. It is not good how it is now and many clubs struggle when they are not adequately compensated for the players who leave for the NHL.”
"Also here we must continue to work together with the NHL and the NHLPA when addressing this crucial issue. One idea I have is to form an Athletes’ Commission within the IIHF and have the players help us in this area. I hope our delegates will accept our proposal to have such a commission so we can talk to our athletes about safety and also different issues such as competitions."
“Also this fight must continue, although it is sometimes costly and it’s not always easy to deal with WADA. The issue with athlete’s reporting their whereabouts is quite challenging for hockey players who constantly move from one place to another. Having said that, the IIHF is WADA code-compliant and it will stay that way.”
“We are lucky that match-fixing and betting are not major issues in our sport, but this has become a huge problem for other team sports and ice hockey must stay vigilant so it doesn’t creep in into our sport.”