A disturbing scene unfolded in the Ukrainian Hockey League on Sunday, as Andrei Deniskin of HK Kremenchuk made a racist gesture towards American-born player Jalen Smereck of Donbass Donetsk, who is Black, by miming the peeling of a banana and eating it on the ice.
— World Hockey Report (@worldhockeyrpt) September 26, 2021
Deniskin, 23, was ejected from the game after the incident.
"Donbass Hockey club strongly denies all forms of discrimination and is outraged by the behaviour of Andrei Deniskin,” the Donbass said in a statement. "Racism has no place on sports grounds or outside of them."
Deniskin then released an apology via Instagram following the incident, which was quickly deleted after he was criticized for how feeble and insincere it was.
“I would like to express a public apology to the player of the Donbas [sic] hockey club Jaylen Smerek [sic],” the caption of the post read. “I being in negative emotions, showed a gesture that someone might consider as an insult in racial affiliation. I respect all people regardless of race or nationality. Emotions in hockey are unfortunately different.”
Deniskin’s excuse of having a heated on-ice moment did not welcome any forgiveness, as the IIHF’s president Luc Tardif, released a statement on Monday morning.
This a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game, and we will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately. 2/2
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) September 27, 2021
“The IIHF condemns in the strongest possible terms the actions of Andri Denyskin. There is no place for such a blatantly racist and unsportsmanlike gesture in our sport and in society,” the statement read. “This a direct assault on the ideals and values of our game, and we will ensure that all necessary ethics violation investigations occur to ensure that this behaviour is sanctioned appropriately.”
The UHL said there are going to be disciplinary actions forthcoming, but nothing has been made official as of yet.
Deniskin has spent the majority of his playing career in the Ukraine after a brief junior stint playing in the NAHL.
The 24-year-old Smereck, a Detroit native, was formerly in the Arizona Coyotes organization after playing his junior career in the OHL. This is his first season playing overseas.
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