The IIHF has condemned the racist gestures which were made by Ukrainian Hockey League player Andrei Denyskin during a game on Sunday, calling his actions “a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game” and committing to investigate the incident further.
“The IIHF condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of Andri Denyskin,” Luc Tardif, president of the IIHF, said in a statement on Monday. “There is no place for such a blatantly racist and unsportsmanlike gesture in our sport and in society.
“We will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately.”
The incident occurred in the second period of Sunday’s game between HC Kremenchuk, who Denyskin plays for, and HC Donbass. During a stoppage in play, Denyskin shouted at Jalen Smereck, a defenceman for Donbass who is Black, and then mimed unpeeling a banana and eating it.
Denyskin was ejected from the game.
Prominent players from around the hockey world weighed in after video of the incident surfaced on social media.
“Am I surprised? No. This is still a huge issue in this game,” Anthony Duclair, who plays for the Florida Panthers, wrote on Twitter. “Can’t wait to hear this punishment, a lot on the line for the future of this game.”
Mathieu Joseph, a forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning, shared Duclair’s perspective, saying on Twitter that Denyskin shouldn’t be allowed or given “a chance to play hockey ever again. I am beyond disgusted. Hurts to watch. I cannot wait to hear the suspension.”
The UHL called Denyskin’s “unacceptable within the framework of a civilized society” and said disciplinary proceedings would be opened against him. Donbass echoed the league’s sentiment, saying in a statement that it “strongly denies all forms of discrimination” and that “racism has no place” in sports or society.
It is unclear at this time what type of punishment Denyskin might receive.
Denyskin has since addressed the incident on Instagram, saying it was “a gesture that someone can consider as an insult in race” that he made after his emotions got the best of him. Denyskin went on to claim he respects “all people regardless of race or nationality.”