Flag scandal may come to trial (exclusive video)


A group of defenders of the white-red-white flag are about to file a lawsuit against Sweden and the Ice Hockey World Championship organizing committee.

According to Isabel Sommerfeld (NGO Info Belarus), they consider lodging a legal application against the organisers and the Swedish state for discriminating holders of white-red-white flag on the arena in Stockholm. Some Russian fans may stream Soviet flags but they have never been withdrawn from the games, Swedish activists explain their position.

Before the start of Belarus-Sweden game white-red-white flags were flaunting near the arena: about 30 protesters were picketing expressing their resentment over the IIHF’s decision to inhibit the use of Belarusian national symbols during the 2013 World Ice Hockey Championship.

As the egregious case of kicking the Belarusian fans out of the arena for their unfurling national flags was on everyone’s lips the protest action has received wide coverage in Swedish media.

As the picket came was nearly over, Swedish journalists informed Isabel Sommerfeld of the IIHF’s readiness to reach a compromise, i.e. they granted a permission to enter the arena with white-red-white flags and keep them on shoulders but one should refrain from raising them.

During the game, however, safety guards appeared not to pay any regard to normal-sized white-red-white flags. But after a fan warned of his intention to unfurl a big flag a safety guard answered that in this case the young man would be withdrawn. Then the fan passed the flag over to the upper terracings; two girls sitting there unfolded it in the middle of the third period and kept unfurled till the end of the game. It is to be noted that there were also fans holding official Belarusian flags (red-green) on the arena.

Belarus may have lost in the game (1:2) but the fact that nobody was arrested during the match is a small victory of civil activists and result of heavy media coverage

From IIHF Statute:

8. Neutrality The IIHF observes strict political, racial, gender and religious neutrality. No discrimination is permitted against a Member National Association or any club or person on political, racial or religious grounds.

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