Since Monday, the Fribourgeois René Fasel has been at the center of a vast controversy. At issue: his meeting in Minsk with Belarusian President Alexander Loukachenko, considered the last European dictator. The president of the International Hockey Federation returned to this episode in Mise au Point.
The World Hockey Championship is theoretically to be played in Minsk in May, jointly with Riga, capital of Latvia. René Fasel did not regret going to Lukashenko: “It was my duty, as the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, to go to Belarus. This nation, along with Latvia, had secured these World Championships at our congress in 2017. So he was absolutely normal that I go to see the leaders in Belarus “.
The opposition in the country as well as about fifty MEPs are stepping up to the plate against this World Cup in Minsk.
“We also talked about politics. He didn’t like much”
But what did the boss of world hockey and the Belarusian president say to each other? “We first talked about the organization of the World Championships and the various challenges that we will have with access to the internet for journalists, visas …”
“We also talked about Covid-19 and politics. He didn’t like it very much because he said ‘René, you are not here to talk about politics. I am elected president of this country. My duty, it’s to protect this country. ”We insisted anyway, we talked about new elections, we talked about the Constitution and our hope was that the world championships could bring something. And I would say to speed up the process of ‘a reconciliation between the opposition and the government of Belarus. Unfortunately, today it is very compromised … “
“I am one of the last romantics in the world of sport. In 2018, we worked for 4 years to have the unified teams of the North and South Korean ladies at the PyeongChang Olympics. I went to North Korea Twice. We met leaders, we talked a lot … With sanctions and isolation, we always punish the wrong people“.
“I am not fooled, it will be very difficult”
The big question now is whether the World Championship will be held in Belarus, knowing that some big sponsors have threatened to withdraw. “Listen, I’m not fooled, it will be very difficult. But first, we have an obligation to do an audit before deciding. I’m a Democrat. There are rules and statutes. We have a council. with 13 people, including me …. “.
The International Hockey Federation will make an announcement Monday or no later than Tuesday.