Ice hockey-IIHF reprimands Russian Ice Hockey Federation over pro-war 'propaganda'

(Reuters) - The International ice hockey federation (IIHF) has reprimanded the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) after Russian clubs promoted messages in support of the Ukraine war, the IIHF said on Friday.

Russia invaded Ukraine in February in what Moscow calls a "special military operation". Kyiv calls it an unprovoked war of aggression, reflecting what it sees as malice towards Ukrainians dating back to Soviet and imperial days.

The IIHF said that signs shown by fans at stadiums, which did not look hand made, appeared in different arenas and there were posters and billboards with a political context of a more permanent nature at the venues and the clubs published photos with pro-war messages on their social media accounts.

"The IIHF Ethics Board had referred the case to the IIHF Disciplinary Board concerning the potential violation of the IIHF Ethics Code due to propaganda for the war in Ukraine by clubs and leagues under its jurisdiction that were brought to its attention in March 2022, and the failure of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation to take any action to stop or report such violations," the IIHF said in a statement.

It added that signs or billboards showing support for or promoting the war in Ukraine have no place in an arena or hockey and the appropriate sanction was a reprimand for the RIHF.

In February, the IIHF suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from participation in every age category. It later moved the 2023 world championships out of St Petersburg due to concerns about the wellbeing of players and officials.

(Reporting by Tommy Lund in Gdansk; Editing by Ken Ferris)