René Fasel: Slovakia is a hockey country
by SVK 2019 organizing committee|19 MAR 2019
Fasel is expecting an exciting tournament in Bratislava and Kosice. 
photo: SVK 2019
IIHF President René Fasel has expressed satisfaction with the preparations of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, set to take place in Bratislava and Kosice in less than two months.
During an official site visit to Bratislava on Monday, Fasel went to see the Ondrej Nepela Ice Rink and met with Slovak prime minister Peter Pellegrini, Bratislava city mayor Matus Vallo, and chairman of Bratislava Self-Governing Region Juraj Drob.  
Ondrej Nepela Ice Rink is a familiar spot for Fasel, who knows the arena and the city well from 2011, the last time the World Championship came to Slovakia.

During a meeting with reporters, Fasel recalled the first World Championships that featured an independent Slovakia. Following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, Slovakia was relegated to Pool C and had to play its way back to the top.  Against all expectations the Slovaks made it back, reached to the gold medal game in 2000, and then upset Russia in 2002 to win the country's first and only World Championship.
“Slovakia showed back then that it is a hockey country and I suppose it will be the same this time. After all, hockey is a number one sport in your country,” said Fasel.
Fasel was accompanied by IIHF General Horst Lichtner and members of the local organizing committee. He pointed out that it is a big advantage for Slovakia to have two ice rinks offering conveniences to both players and spectators.
“Bratislava ice rink is a very good place to host the World Championship. It offers modern amenities to the players and huge comfort for the spectators. It has good training sites and VIP rooms. There are not many ice rinks in Europe with such perfect conditions. I was in Kosice before, the ice rink there also meets all the requirements,” said Fasel.
Fasel with Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini
photo: SVK 2019
Fasel supported the organizing committee’s and the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation’s decision to have the Slovakia national team play its preliminary round games in Kosice. Eight years ago, Slovakia played instead in Bratislava.

“I do not see any problem in that. I even think it will help the championship and both ice rinks will be full. Bratislava will be more international this time, fans from mostly Czech Republic and Russia will be coming. Kosice will be living for the team of Slovakia. The tournament in Slovakia will be a success.”

Fasel expects strong attendance at the 2019 World Championship, and is already looking forward to a top-class tournament.
“We will see what players will come to the tournament. I hope there will be many world stars at the championship. Then it will be an experience for the spectators from all over the world.”
Slovak’s capital city, Bratislava will live for hockey from May 10 to May 26, too. Bratislava city mayor Matus Vallo is also looking forward to the championship.
“As a recreational sportsman, amateur hockey player, and a patriot I wish the success of Slovak national team," said Vallo. "As a representative of the host city and country I want most of all the games and fans meeting were fair-play. Because it is fair-play that is most valued in the time of emotions. I believe that the citizens of Bratislava will show their hospitality, friendliness, and true sport emotions, like they always do.”
Fasel and IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner met with leaders of the Slovak 2019 Organizing Committee and the City of Bratislava. 
photo: SVK 2019