Ban on Russia will end once Europe ‘starts heating itself with firewood’ – hockey coach


The International Ice Hockey Federation’s Disciplinary Board threw out an appeal against the ban on Russia this week

International ice hockey officials will rethink their ban on Russia once Europe is forced to start warming itself with firewood, according to former Russian national team coach Vladimir Plyuschev.

The International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) Disciplinary Board threw out an appeal from Russia this week, meaning all Russian teams remain suspended. 

The IIHF handed down its original punishment in February as a response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, and also stripped Russia of the men’s 2023 World Championships and 2023 World Junior Championships. 

Officials at the Russian Ice Hockey Federation have suggested they could yet appeal the IIHF ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Switzerland.

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Russia's Evgeni Malkin pictured at a World Championship game. © RvS.Media / Monika Majer / Getty Images
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Reacting to the news, Plyuschev told TASS that the outcome was expected, but predicted Russian hockey will return to the international fold once the military operation has ended, or even before that when Russian-supplied energy reserves start running low in Europe. 

“Everyone was directed against us, on all issues – economic, humanitarian, military, sports. Did you think they would make an exception for us here?” Plyuschev said.

“I think the whole thing will be canceled when the special operation [in Ukraine] ends, and perhaps a little earlier – closer to autumn.

“When they start heating Europe with firewood, then they will think about it. They only understand the conversation from a position of strength,” added Plyushchev.

Fears have continued to mount in Europe that Russia might turn off its energy supplies altogether, while concerns continue over a major recession.

While Russian hockey officials can head to the CAS to appeal against the IIHF Disciplinary Board’s ruling, Plyushchev, 67, questioned what the point would be.

“It has already been repeatedly proved that it is useless, they invented dopings that are not there,” he claimed.

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© Russian Presidential Press and Information Office / Handout / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
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“You need to try when you are confident in your abilities, when you are sure that you will be heard,” advised Plyushchev, who coached the Russian national team in 2002-03 and has spent numerous seasons in charge of the nation’s youth teams.  

The hockey coach then referenced Russian gymnast Ivan Kuliak, who was recently banned for one year for his appearance with a ‘Z’ symbol at a World Cup event in Doha.

“Now our gymnast was banned from participating in our own competitions, that is, everything came to such a state – a Russian athlete cannot compete in Russian competitions just because of the presence of the ‘Z’ symbol on a T-shirt, so soon they will be forbidden to go to the toilet,” Plyushchev concluded.

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