The lenient punishment meted out to one of the league’s players for making a racist gesture has been widely criticized.
During a game between HC Kremenchuk and HC Donbass on September 26, Kremenchuk player Andriy Deniskin mimed peeling and eating a banana in the direction of black Donbass player Jalen Smereck.
Deniskin was given a 13-game suspension by the Ukrainian Ice Hockey Federation’s Disciplinary Committee in collaboration with the Ukrainian Hockey League (UHL), but under UHL rules, the player or his club can buy out 10 games for $187.80 each.
The punishment and handling of the incident were described as “pathetic” by Nazem Kadri, a player for the Colorado Avalanche of the National Hockey League.
“What a fumble by the Ukrainian league to allow a player to buy his games back after a vulgar and unacceptable action,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Pathetic mishandle by who ever is in charge. Obviously they tolerate this kind of behaviour, it’s a shame.”
The UHL did not respond to CNN’s request for comment, but said at the time that “such behavior of hockey players on the site is unacceptable within a civilized society” in a statement.
Deniskin apologized to Smereck in an Instagram post after the match.
“I want to publicly apologize to the player of the hockey club Donbass Jalen Smereck,” he wrote.
“During the match Kremenchuk – Donbass, I, being in negative emotions, showed a gesture that someone may consider as an insult in race. I respect all people regardless of their race or nationality. Emotions in hockey, unfortunately, can be different.”
Speaking to the press after the incident, Deniskin said he regrets the incident “because I am not a racist. I made this negative gesture on emotion after the fight, but at that moment I did not have any racist intentions,” he added. “Only afterwards I realized that I could have made Jalen look bad with my ill-considered action. So, once again, I want to express my apologies to him. I respect all people regardless of their racial or national origin. I am very sorry to what has happened because I treat all people equally.”