CASCAIS, Portugal – President René Fasel opened the 137th IIHF Congress here on Thursday. He confirmed that the IIHF World Championship will continue to be played annually and also reported on the development of the new European club competition slated to start in 2014-2015.
When opening the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress on Portugal’s west coast, President Fasel announced that the IIHF will continue to play its flagship event, the men’s World Championship, every year.
Fasel referred to discussions in the IIHF Council (board) in Cascais where the executive body of the IIHF agreed on principles regarding four major areas.
“We will continue to play the men’s World Championship every year including Olympic years, and this especially to give the younger players an opportunity to showcase their development on an international stage.”
“The tournament will continue to take place in the first week of May, with the exception of Olympic years where necessary timing adjustments will be made.”
“We will continue to play with sixteen teams. Most likely in two groups of eight, but this is still subject to discussions with our commercial partner. And lastly, for sportive reasons, the quarterfinal games will be played with the cross-over format.”
Fasel also gave an update on the efforts in re-launching a European club competition, still under the working game “ECC”.
“Together with officials from the European top clubs and leagues, a board has been founded which is now responsible for this project. This ECC Board is right now in the process of contracting a commercial partner for this new top European Club Competition.”
“We hope to conclude this process within the upcoming weeks with our common goal in mind of re-starting this European club-driven league no later than in the 2014-15 season.”
“We all believe in the potential of this project and we are positive that with all stakeholders closely involved, we will put in place a successful, competitive and financially viable league.”
René Fasel went on to report on the IOC Congress in Argentina, which he attended, and how the presidential change within the IOC may have any influence on the IIHF.
“Apart from the allocation of the 2020 Summer Olympics to Tokyo, also the new IOC President was elected,” said Fasel. “Thomas Bach, now the former President of the German Olympic Committee, will success Jacques Rogge as the new head of the International Olympic Committee.
“Future will show how this change will affect our sport, but I will do my best to ensure that hockey keeps the superior position it currently and duly enjoys amongst all Olympic Winter Sports.”
Finally, the IIHF President thanked his counterparts with the NHL and the NHLPA for ensuring a best-on-best Olympics in Sochi 2014, the fifth consecutive with NHL players’ participation.
“And very shortly after Sochi, we would like to sit down with our friends and partners with the league and the player’s union to discuss NHL participation also in PyeongChang, Korea in 2018.”
Other IIHF Council decision which was approved by congress on Thursday:
The women’s Olympic tournament in Sochi 2014 will also be used for the purpose of determining which team will be relegated to the women’s second tier, the 2015 Women’s World Championship Division 1, Group A.
This decision will ensure that the full women’s 2014 World Championship program (six divisions, 36 teams) will take place during the Olympic year, with promotion and relegation at all levels.