Finnish junior ice hockey team players suspected of disciplinary misdemeanours at U-18 World Championships
The Finnish Ice Hockey Association is looking into whether some of the players of the Under-18 national ice hockey team have committed misdemeanours during the World Championships that ended on Wednesday.
Jukka-Pekka Annala, the head coach of the team, which finished sixth in the tournament played in Kazan in Russia, revealed the incident in his column in the Kiekkolehti ice hockey magazine.
“After our games were over, it was revealed that more than half of our players had used Swedish snuff during the entire tournament and that a large number of the guys had played cards for money whenever they had a chance. The largest sums in the pot had been in the region of EUR 800”, Annala writes in the Wednesday issue of Kiekkolehti.
In his column Annala points out that with the Under-18 team the no gambling policy was introduced during the prevous season.
“For example the use of intoxicants and snuff is forbidden, and with simple logic it is a punishable offence”, Annala continues.
The Finnish Ice Hockey Association has already issued a verbal warning to the players in question.
“Furthermore, every one of them has been asked to provide a written statement of what they have done and why. After that we will see if there is need for further action”, says sports director Timo Bäckman of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association.
In the worst case, the association may exclude a player from national team activities.
The association pays the Under-18 national team players a daily allowance of 15 euros.
“At least in the younger age-groups the boys often come up with extremely creative but not necessarily very intelligent ways of spending that money”, Annala writes.
Bäckman believes that the idea behind Annala’s column was to wake up the younger age-groups to understand what representing one’s country is all about.
Bäckman and two coaching directors at the Finnish Ice Hockey Association will decide on the possible further sanctions.
The Finnish U-18 team were knocked out in the quarter-finals 2-1 by Canada, and were then beaten 4-3 by Germany in the match to decide 5th and 6th places in the tournament.
Team Canada overturned an early 4-2 defeat to the Russian hosts and beat them 8-0 in the final.
The Ice Hockey World Championships at the very top level are also topical: the IIHF tournament, played in Quebec City and Halifax in Canada, begins on May 2nd. Finland took the silver medals last year in Moscow.