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Ice hockey-Targeted with racist behaviour, Smereck says change is overdue By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – Jalen Smereck, HC Donbass’s hockey player in action in the Ukrainian Hockey Championship match with HC Bilyi Bars Kramatorsk. September 20, 2021. Picture taken September 20, 2021. HC Donbass press services/Handout via REUTERS

By Amy Tennery

(Reuters) – Jalen Semereck, a player in the Ukrainian Hockey League (UHL), told Reuters that he will return to hockey despite being targeted by racial behavior. However, the American stated that reform is long overdue.

Video of HC Kremenchuk’s forward Andriy Dmitkin peeling and then eating a banana, in a gesture directed towards the HC Donbass defensiveman (who is Black), shocked the hockey world this week. This led to outcry about racism in the sport.

Deniskin was placed on suspension for thirteen games. Three of these are optional if Deniskin is fined an additional fine, 50,000 hryvnia (1,900) – further outrage by critics who included many players from the National Hockey League (NHL), calling this too light.

“When I came here I kind of figured I’d be on my own and, you know, it’d be tough,” Smereck, 24, told Reuters. While I was aware that there would be racial incidents, it wasn’t something I expected.

“It’s gone too far. I think, 2021, this type of stuff shouldn’t be going on.”

Smereck claimed that Deniskin never reached out to them directly. This was aside from an initial apology after the game.

American was in contact with Evgeniy Kolchev, former UHL general manager. He told Reuters that he had been fired for his comments against racism. However, Reuters did not prevent a video showing the incident from being posted on the official site of the league.

Smereck stated that no one from the league had reached him after the incident, something which was not surprising to him.

“It’s everywhere you go,” he said. “I’ve faced it in every league, OHL, American League, so it’s going to be everywhere you go. There’s no way to hide from it, there’s no way to go around it.”

Detroit native, Smereck, who was born there, took up hockey as a child.

Prior to his joining HC Donbass he was on an entry level contract for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes.

Smereck said, “I feel like LeBron or the president,” and he adores Jackie Robinson. He said that Robinson broke the racial barriers in Major League Baseball.

Smereck returned to the ice partly out of loyalty to his team-mates, but he stated that he was not content with the status quo and would make changes for the next generation.

“I really want to take advantage of the moment while there’s kids out there seeing this, just to let them know and try to really get on top of this and flip it around so that the kids don’t look at this the wrong way, and encourage them to play hockey.”

Mike Robinson
Mike covers the financial, utilities and biotechnology sectors for Street Register. He has been writing about investment and personal finance topics for almost 12 years. Mike has an MBA in Finance from Wake Forest University.