Thu, 20 Jan 2022

Former Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has blasted Russia's decision to don kits in tribute to the USSR during recent ice hockey matches against his homeland.

Russia and Finland faced off at the 'Channel One Cup' in Moscow at the weekend, when the visitors beat their hosts 3-2 in overtime to win the competition outright.

The event serves as part of the warm-ups for the Winter Olympics in Beijing in February as well as the IHF World Championships in May, which the Finns will host in Tampere and Helsinki.

Rather than the action though, one of the most talked-about points from Sunday's meeting was Russia's donning of Soviet-era jerseys to mark 75 years of the popular sport in the country.

Russia took on Finland in Moscow. � Sputnik

Serving as Finnish prime minister from 2014 to 2015, Stubb took to Twitter to voice his disapproval.

"I am surprised and disappointed that Russia was allowed to wear CCCP-shirts in an EHT [Euro Hockey Tour] match against Finland," he began.

"That letter combination and the regime that stood behind it symbolizes authoritarian imperialism and killed millions of innocent people in the process.

"I will refrain from other examples one could draw from history," Stubb continued.

"[It is] an offensive gesture that does not belong to sport or anywhere else. It matters little that Finland won the match. It matters a lot that countries in the ice-hockey family were brutally annexed by those letters," he finished.

The history between the two nations is clearly a sore point for Stubb, who received plenty of support from his countrymen - some of whom called it a "disgusting provocation" and labeled the Russians "shameful revisionists".

"It was purposive," someone else claimed.

"It was meant to offend, it was not just an 'oops'. Now why would the Russian team purposely be offensive to Finland if not to provoke?" they asked.

But one Finn went against the grain by reminding people that Russia were wearing the jerseys to mark their 75th anniversary in hockey.

"Who cares?" he asked. "I don't".

Stubb was also informed that the shirts were worn throughout the Channel One Cup - which this year also featured Canada, Czech Republic, and Sweden - and not just for the Finland loss.

"Take it easy," demanded a fellow Finn, again bringing up the commemoration and Russia's homage to the "days of their prime in sports".

"Pretty please, let's not mix politics in here."

"This regime defeated fascist Germany and the world was saved," read another response.

Back in Russia, two-time Olympic champion and current politician Viacheslav Fetisov said he liked the gesture "because our Soviet hockey players have made history in world sports as one of the best.

"But to play Soviet hockey, you have to be a Soviet person," he stressed.

During the Channel One Cup, the Russians wore a predominantly red design to honor their first Olympic Games win in 1956 and Sunday's white offering recalled a period where back-to-back golds were scooped in 1964 and 1968 while the country went undefeated at the World Championships.

In 2008, Russia also wore Soviet-era jerseys against Italy at the World Championships.

Later in 2015, they were used against Finland in a Euro Hockey tour defeat, apparently at the Finns' request to mark 50 years since a famous meeting at the Tampereen Ice Stadium.

At the time, ex-trainer Andrei Safronov revealed the jerseys were going to be auctioned off to raise money for charity.

(RT.com)

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