US-born player vows not to play in Ukrainian Hockey League until Andrei Deniskin is banned for racist behavior


HC Donbass defender Jalen Smereck has said he will not play another game in the Ukrainian Hockey League until Krementchuk forward Andrei Deniskin is “removed from the league” for making a racist gesture to him. Sunday.

In the second period of their game, Deniskin yelled at Smereck, who is black, then pantomimated while peeling off a banana and eating it. He was ejected from the match and the UHL announced that disciplinary proceedings would be initiated against Deniskin.

“These situations are very difficult and I firmly believe in standing up for what is right. Therefore, I have thought a lot about the rest of my career,” he added. Smereck posted on Instagram. “For now, I have decided to take personal time off from HC Donbass and I will not play another game in the UHL until Andrei Deniskin is suspended and retired from the league.

Smereck, 24, is a Detroit native who is playing his first season abroad. He was previously a member of the Arizona Coyotes organization.

Deniskin posted an apology on Instagram, saying it was “a gesture that someone may consider a racial insult”, that his emotions won out, and that “I respect all people, regardless of race or their nationality “.

Luc Tardif, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, said in a statement that the IIHF “condemns in the strongest possible terms” Deniskin’s actions.

“There is no room for such a blatantly racist and unsportsmanlike gesture in our sport and in society,” the statement said. “This is a direct attack on the ideals and values ​​of our game, and we will ensure that all necessary investigations into ethics violations are carried out to ensure that this behavior is appropriately sanctioned. “


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