It’s January of 2021 and we still don’t know who and where will the 2021 IIHF World Championships be hosted. Rene Fasel has caused a storm of negative feedback after his visit to Belarus, where he hugged the dictator – Alexander Lukashenko. The visit has now caused issues in regards to potential sponsors.
Rene Fasel was supposed to visit Minsk, Belarus, to inform their side that they won’t be co-hosting their side of the IIHF World Championships. However, things have taken a turn as the visit turned into a disaster. From firm and welcoming greetings between Lukashenko and the President of the IIHF to going as far as taking pictures of an alleged murderer who also happens to be the president of the Belorussian Hockey Federation. It’s clear as day – he didn’t go there to represent IIHF, he went there for his own gain, personal and maybe even political. It’s no secret that Fasel has eyed a high chair in Russian Hockey once his term finally ends and the organization that oversees hockey will be set free.
His visit to Minsk has forced two of the major backers to make loud statements.
The following is the statement from ”Nivea Men”
“Hi all, thank you for all the comments. NIVEA Men stands for respect, togetherness, and opposes all forms of discrimination and violence. Looking at the actual situation, we have decided that NIVEA MEN will not sponsor the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championships if it is confirmed to be co-hosted in Belarus. We already informed the IIHF about our decision and will keep following the current discussions closely.”
We’ve been a proud partner to the @IIHFHockey World Championship for 28 years. But we also respect & promote all human rights. Therefore, #SKODA will withdraw from sponsoring the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship if #Belarus is confirmed to be co-hosting the event. pic.twitter.com/fC3ZMbY2cG
— ŠKODA AUTO NEWS (@skodaautonews) January 16, 2021
The following is the statement from ”Škoda”
“We’ve been a proud partner to the IIHF Hockey World Championship for 28 years. But we also respect & promote all human rights. Therefore, SKODA will withdraw from sponsoring the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship if Belarus is confirmed to be co-hosting the event.”
Now those are two MAJOR (yes with capital letters) backers of the tournament. The IIHF is now under pressure as never before. The decision is coming in a week or so. But whatever happens, there are still many options, many countries to be considered.