Hockey

IIHF investigating president over kickback scheme

The International Ice Hockey Federation is investigating allegations of IIHF president Rene Fasel accepting kickbacks involving the IIHF's marketing partner and Fasel's childhood friend.

The International Ice Hockey Federation is investigating allegations of IIHF president Rene Fasel accepting kickbacks involving the IIHF's marketing partner and Fasel's childhood friend.

The Zurich newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported Sunday that Fasel benefited financially from marketing contracts awarded to Infront, which handles the television and marketing rights to the world hockey championship until 2017.

The newspaper alleged that Infront paid 400,000 Swiss francs ($412,000 Cdn.) in fees to company run by a childhood friend of Fasel identified as "Y.S."

The newspaper quoted "Y.S."  as saying the only reason his company was successful was because of his relationship with Fasel.

The paper questioned how Fasel's friend could receive $400,000 annually in consulting fees over a seven-year period for advice on winter sports when the person had no connection to winter sports other than Fasel.

The newspaper reported that a rival company said it had failed to win contracts with Infront even though the successful bidder had little experience in the winter sports market.

Fasel held a news conference Sunday but did not take questions on the subject. He did read from a prepared statement and outlined the allegations and denied them.

"There is not and has never been any consulting agreement between me and Infront. I have, however, helped a longtime friend with offering his services to Infront and I have privately supported him … For example I have helped him in the Asian market," said Fasel.

"Obtaining commissions from sponsorships, this is incorrect. I have never received any commission or bonuses from those contracts. "

Allegations 'false'

Fasel then outlined how the IIHF conducts business in terms of negotiating and awarding contracts for its various events.

"The allegations are false," he said.

Fasel has been a member of the International Olympic Committee since 1995 and last year was elected to its executive board to represent winter sports federations. He is also chairman of the co-ordination commission for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Fasel convened a meeting of the IIHF's executive council a few hours prior to his news conference at which time he proposed that the IIHF conduct an investigation.

"We will fully investigate these allegations," said Fred Meredith, who is Britain's representative on the IIHF council and chairs its legal committee.

"We were totally surprised and totally unaware of these allegations and that is why we had a meeting and decided to fully investigate the allegations that have been made against him," said Meredith.

Meredith, however, refused to say whether an outside lawyer would be hired to look into the allegations or whether the investigations would be done in-house.

IIHF council member Murray Costello said Fasel denied the allegations.

"We think there is no basis to the allegations," said Costello, a former president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association.