Sweden to bar Russia-based ice hockey players from national team

Swedish ice hockey players playing in Russia's KHL league next season will not be allowed to play for their national teams, the country's hockey federations said on Monday.

Sweden to bar Russia-based ice hockey players from national team
Sweden's national hockey team stands for the national anthem before a match against Czechia in November. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

“Those players who choose to play in the KHL next season will not be eligible for our national team, but the formal,” Swedish Ice
Hockey Federation secretary general Johan Stark told Swedish news agency TT, adding that the decision would be taken formally by the federation’s board at the end of the season. 

The Swedish federation had initially issued a statement saying its KHL players would not be available for play in the World Championships in Finland May 13-29, but Stark told daily Aftonbladet that statement had been “unclear”.

He clarified that players who signed contracts with KHL teams before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24 would be allowed to play in the World Championships.

“Those players who signed contracts before (the war started) will be able to play,” Stark said. “In the best of worlds, we would have preferred for no Swedes to play in the KHL. The decision to stay (in the KHL) is up to the players themselves, but I know it’s not that easy to just leave,” Stark said.

The Finnish Ice Hockey Association was the first to announce the restriction on KHL players, saying in a statement that “players playing in Russia next season cannot play for the national team”. 

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The month ahead: What’s happening in Sweden in January?

From defence conferences to sports competitions, here are some of the key dates and events to keep an eye on in Sweden in January 2023.

The month ahead: What's happening in Sweden in January?

January 3rd: Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to meet French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris, to discuss the Swedish EU presidency.

January 3rd-13th: Sweden’s men’s national football team to travel to Portugal to play Finland (January 9th) and Iceland (January 12th).

January 4th: Sweden to play the Czech Republic in the World Junior Championship in ice hockey. The match starts at 8.30pm and will be broadcast by SVT.

January 5th: The final of the World Junior Championship in ice hockey, which may or may not feature Sweden.

January 8th-10th: The annual Folk och Försvar (“Society and Defence”) conference to be held at the Sälen ski resort. Expected to attend are as usual some of the top names in the world of security and defence, including Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

January 11th-29th: The World Championship in men’s handball to take place in Sweden and Poland. This is a popular sport in Sweden, who won the silver in the last World Championship and the gold medal in the last European Championship.

January 12th-13th: The EU Commission to visit Sweden.

January 16th: Sweden’s annual sports gala, Idrottsgalan, to be held at Avicii Arena in Stockholm.

January 17th: Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson to present Sweden’s presidency at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg. On the same day, Sweden will chair a meeting of the EU’s finance ministers in Brussels.

January 18th: Party leader debate in the Swedish parliament, the first one of 2023.

January 23rd: Swedish movie awards Guldbaggegalan to be held at Cirkus in Stockholm.

January 25th-27th: Informal meeting of the EU’s justice, home affairs and migration ministers in Stockholm.

January 27th: King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia to hold a “Sverigemiddag” or “Sweden Dinner” in Stockholm to kick off celebrations of this year of the King’s 50th jubilee. All of Sweden’s county leaders have been invited, and they are also allowed to bring influential people from their respective regions.

January 27th-February 5th: Gothenburg Film Festival to take place in Sweden’s second largest city.

January 31st: The government has asked DIGG, the Agency for Digital Government, to analyse how a state-issued e-ID (a new, state-run alternative to BankID) could be created and maintained. The agency must present their report to the government by this date.