The Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine has suspended Andrei Denyskin for three games, plus an additional 10 games that can be negated if he chooses to pay a ₴50, 000 fine instead, for the racist gesture he directed toward Jalen Smereck during a game on Sunday.
HC Donbass, who Smereck plays for, is urging the Federation to change its course, writing on Twitter that they “demand a reconsideration of the decision.”
The three games are a mandatory suspension, in accordance with the Ukraine Hockey Federation’s disciplinary code, for when a player uses gestures or expressions “related to racial discrimination.” The additional 10 games are the maximum amount allowable under the Federation’s rule.
The ₴50, 000 fine to negate the 10-game suspension amounts to $2,386.85 CAD.
“The Ukrainian Hockey League and I stand with Jalen Smereck and thank all of the fans and media who have offered their support to him,” Eugene Kolychev, the general manager of the Ukrainian Hockey League, wrote on Twitter. “The [UHL] believes that there is no place for racism in the world in which we live, let [alone] in the hockey community.”
The incident occurred in the second period of Sunday’s game between Donbass and Denyskin’s club, HC Kremenchuk. During a stoppage in play, Denyskin shouted at Smereck, who is Black, and then mimed unpeeling a banana and eating it. He was ejected from the game for doing so.
Denyskin later addressed the incident on Instagram, saying it was “a gesture that someone can consider as an insult in race” that he made after his emotions got the best of him. Denyskin went on to claim he respects “all people regardless of race or nationality.” Denyskin has since deleted the post.
Further disciplinary action can still be taken by the IIHF, which publicly condemned Denyskin’s racist gesture on Monday, calling his actions “a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game” while committing to investigate the incident further. It remains unclear at this time what the nature of that punishment might be.
“There is no place for such a blatantly racist and unsportsmanlike gesture in our sport and in society,” Luc Tardif, president of the IIHF, said in a statement earlier this week. “We will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately.”
News of Denyskin’s punishment comes one day after Smereck posted on Instagram saying he would “not play another game in the [Ukrainian Hockey League] until Andrey Denyskin is suspended and removed from the league.”