International Ice Hockey Federation

Fasel pleased with Worlds

Fasel pleased with Worlds

Asian market expansion a goal

Published 17.05.2016 17:21 GMT+3 | Author John Sanful
Fasel pleased with Worlds
ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - MAY 16: IIHF Press Conference preliminary round 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Rene Fasel addressed the media in St. Petersburg at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Among the topics Fasel covered were the World Cup, the fate of NHL players participating at the 2018 Winter Olympics, and the progress of this tournament in Russia.

Deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Kirillov, joined Fasel on the dais and welcomed everyone to the city. Kirillov proclaimed how proud he is of the city’s preparedness to host 28 Preliminary Round and two quarter-finals games.

“This is a unique thing for the city of St. Petersburg,” Kirillov said. “We have a fan zone downtown where there is a special big screen that permitted fans to watch games and created a very special atmosphere that was enjoyed by so many.”

Already, over 100,000 spectators have seen games and 40,000 have been to the downtown fan zone. Up to 5,000 Fans from Finland are expected for their next game tomorrow against Canada. Additionally, 500 Hungarian fans have come to St. Petersburg and purchased tickets to see all of Hungary’s effort here in this tournament.

Fasel was equally pleased with the overall progress of play and organization at this World Championship. He thanked the St. Petersburg organizers and volunteers for their hard work and running a smooth operation. Moscow is doing well with the Russian team playing there and expected total turnout for this World Championship will be some 400,000 spectators. Last year’s tournament in the Czech Republic broke all time attendance records.

Fasel touched upon the fact that games in St. Petersburg are being played at the Yubileiny Arena and not the larger Ice Palace.

“I am happy that the city of St. Petersburg took the opportunity to come here,” Fasel said. “There were some complaints but this arena was renovated and will serve as a second arena for the growth of the sport of hockey here.”

He noted that they schedule for the next few days of IIHF business will include a Council meeting next Wednesday, elections on Thursday; and Congress on Friday and Saturday morning before the semi-finals.

Three applications for membership will be considered, including Nepal, Indonesia and the Philippines. Currently, there are 74 member federations.

“We have 17 Asian federation members at this time,” Fasel said. “We can see that more than half of the global population lives in Asia and I really hope the two Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Korea and Beijing, China will push the direction of our game into Asia.”

As to whether there will be NHL participation in the 2018 Olympics, Fasel shared that there continues to be a financial consideration at play, along with the consent of the NHL and NHLPA.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said clearly they would not pay player transportation and insurance. In the budget that we have, we have to find $10 million to make this happen. We still have the challenge convincing the NHL and NHLPA to come. Now we have another challenge within our federation to convince people that we have to find the money so it is even more difficult than it was before.”

The NHL and NHLPA still have not committed to making players available for the Olympics but in some quarters players have expressed support for taking part.

“For every athlete to win an Olympic gold medal is very special. I think we expect that the players they want to go and that is a very positive point. When I speak with the NHLPA there is a huge interest in going. We will work very hard to make this happen but it does not look very good.”

The deadline for a decision will come January 2017.

He admitted that Finland stands a good chance of landing the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship while acknowledging that Belarus did so well with the tournament in 2014 that there is a very good chance at some point in the future the World Championships will return there as the country intends to apply for hosting another World Championship in Minsk.

When asked to compare this tournament and the upcoming World Cup, Fasel said nothing about that tournament diminishes the importance or value of the World Championship.

“It will be a great tournament with the best players in the world but it is a different product (than the World Championship). It will be interesting playing in Toronto, in a hockey city in a hockey country.”


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