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GENEVA, August 24. /TASS/. The Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RHF) was subjected to a fine of 80,000 Swiss francs ($84,870) over the national squad’s walkout on the Canadian national anthem in Prague over three months ago, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) stated on Monday.
The final match of the 2015 IIHF World Championship, held on May 17 in the capital of the Czech Republic, was marred by the Russian team’s walkout from the ice before the Canadian anthem was played in honor of the new world champions.
Russia handed over its champion’s title at this year’s world championship in the Czech Republic to Canada after the crushing 1-6 defeat in the final match, which set the new attendance world record of over 741,600 spectators.
"Supported by video footage of the ceremony, the Deciding Panel of the IIHF Disciplinary Board ascertained that the Russian team captain had discussions with team staff members, after which he talked to his teammates, at the same time moving his head towards the open gate; the gate had been open since the start of the ceremony," IIHF said in a statement posted on its website.
"The majority of the players and the staff members left the ice immediately following the Canadian Players receiving their medals while a few players remained, eventually leaving the ice themselves a little later," the statement said.
According to the IIHF, a formal meeting on the issue was held last Friday with the RHF, represented by national team’s General Manager Andrei Safronov, who "expressed his regrets and apologized for the players’ and staff’s action."
"It was emphasized in a statement by the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia that the action was an unfortunate misunderstanding," the statement said. "The [Russia] federation said that this was not intentional and that the open gate was interpreted according to existing practices as a signal for the players to leave the ice."
The IIHF Disciplinary Board, however, ruled that the actions of the Russian national ice hockey team’s player and its staff during the awarding ceremony following the final match for the world champion’s title was not a result of the cited "unfortunate misunderstanding."
"The Russian players and officials left the ice after a short discussion between the Russian team captain and some Russian officials and the unmistakable head gesture of the captain. It was also noted that the Russian team and management should have been aware of the postgame/victory and closing ceremony procedure because of their vast experience with IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. The open gate was irrelevant. "
According to the IIHF, deciding on the penalty for Russia, which will be hosting next year the 2016 IIHF World Championships, the Disciplinary Board considered several factors and they are "The importance of the tournament and its closing ceremony, the standing of the Russian ice hockey team as one of the leading national hockey teams in the world and the responsibility of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia as the host of the next IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship."
"On the other hand, the Russian team shook hands with the Canadian team and the federation has expressed regret and has apologized to the IIHF and Canada for the team’s and officials’ action," the statement added.
IIHF President Rene Fasel said the next day after the incident that the Russian Ice Hockey Federation would be subjected to penalties for the disrespect displayed by the country’s national team in regard to the Canadian squad.
The incident also took place before the organizers raised the national flags of Canada, Russia and the United States, who were the gold, silver and bronze winners of the championship respectively, and the Canadian anthem was played.
In an interview with TASS in May, Fasel said he was deeply disappointed, when he witnessed the incident, and it was the first one of such nature over 29 years of ice hockey world championship matches he attended.
Among the Russian players, who remained on the ice and did not walk away were Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeny Malkin, Viktor Tikhonov and Dmitry Kulikov.
The RHF has seven days to submit an appeal over today’s decision of the world’s governing body of ice hockey with the IIHF Appeal Board.