IIHF Presidential Candidates Include A Track Record of Assault and Pissing Of The Pants

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Semi-Annual Congress is set to take place on Saturday in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where delegates will vote on a new council—and most importantly—the governing body’s future president. While the IIHF stated that all candidates have cleared a general vetting process, there are at least two candidates who have been embroiled in embarrassing, publicly-documented scandals, one of which even resulted in legal action. It begs the question—what is the lowest threshold for a future IIHF president, and why are we allowing ourselves to become FIFA?

The first candidate in question is Danish Ice Hockey frontrunner Henrik Bach Nielsen, who was sentenced to probation over inciting violence. In 2019, the hockey executive was caught on surveillance allegedly instructing a twenty-four-year-old to punch an acquaintance at Old Games Pub in Aalborg, a hit that was carried out and resulted in assault. Nielsen was sentenced to thirty days’ probation for commanding the beat down—a decision he attempted to repeal according to Nordjyske, and subsequently lost.

The second candidate, Sergej Gontcharov of Belarus, was reported to have caused a scene in one of Minsk’s most expensive nightclubs (ironically called Rich Cat), even flashing his official accreditation for the 2019 European Games in an attempt to sway the club workers forced to deal with him.

The IIHF presidential candidate was found asleep in “obscene form” in the club’s bathroom according to news outlet Lenta, verbally abusing the guards who were tasked with removing the soaked hockey official from the premises.

These scandals are an embarrassment to the highest office in hockey. Neither incident was covered up or concealed—in fact, both were reported publicly by various outlets at the time of their occurrences—and yet seem to have slipped by IIHF members’ notice. At such an important time for the sport, hockey deserves leadership with dignity and morality—not candidates with rap sheets and reputations. We are about to find out if hockey’s top brass agrees.

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