ZÜRICH – The IIHF has accepted the clarification from Peter Forsberg and the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation regarding Mr. Forsberg’s comments on the Swedish Olympic team’s performance in a game vs. Slovakia in Turin 2006. The IIHF has closed the case.
It was during a teaser-announcement for an upcoming TV documentary about Peter Forsberg’s career that the now retired player said that Team Sweden “threw” the game against in Slovakia in the preliminary round of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. Slovakia won the game 3-0.
Prior to the game, Sweden had already assured themselves of a spot in the quarter-final and the cross-over playoff format would present the Swedish team with, on paper, a less eminent opponent in case of a loss against the Slovaks.
Sweden went on to win the men’s Olympic ice hockey gold medals after defeating Switzerland in the quarter-final, the Czech Republic in the semi-final and Finland in the gold medal game.
When reminiscing about the road to the gold medal, Mr. Forsberg referred to the encounter with Slovakia as a "throw-game" ("läggmatch" in Swedish). When made aware of the comment, the IIHF contacted the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and asked for a clarification and explanation with regards to Mr. Forsberg’s statement in the TV-documentary.
Last Wednesday, on December 21, Peter Forsberg and the Swedish Ice Hockey Association issued a statement where the player explained that he erred in his choice of words.
"I chose the wrong word to describe the situation [prior to the game against Slovakia]," said Forsberg. "What I wanted to say was that even for a fierce competitor like me, it is sometimes difficult to find full motivation prior to a game which doesn’t necessarily have to be won."
"It is obvious that one always gives everything for the team and we did our best given the special preconditions, but of course the mental state we were in influenced our performance. I think that all elite athletes can relate to such a situation."
"This is my personal view and it doesn’t refer to any other players on our team. Neither the head coach, nor any of the players talked prior to the game about not doing our best," concludes Peter Forsberg.
After internally reviewing the statements and furthermore discussing the issue with the Swedish Ice Hockey Association and its president Christer Englund, the IIHF decided to accept the explanation from Mr. Forsberg.
"After carefully reviewing Peter Forsberg’s initial statement in the TV documentary and later his clarification, we came to the conclusion that Peter made an unfortunate choice of words when trying to describe the situation his team was in," said IIHF President René Fasel, who also is a member of the IOC Executive Committee.
"It was the choice of the Swedish word ‘läggmatch’ which created this situation as it implies a collective and intentional lack of effort from a team and, in Swedish, also has insinuations towards financial benefits from losing. Peter realized that he chose a word which, apart from being very unfortunate, did not reflect what he wanted to say and did not reflect what really happened."
"It also important in this case that whatever Peter Forsberg felt prior to the game and what he later said in the TV documentary, was his own feeling and interpretation. When interviewed by Swedish media, all the other players, including team captain Mats Sundin, said that they did not share Peter Forsberg’s interpretation of the situation prior and during the game."
IIHF President René Fasel concludes:
"It is important to add that the IIHF and the tournament directorate in Turin were of course aware of the special pre-conditions prior to the game and that we decided to dedicate a special game supervisor to the Sweden-Slovakia game with the specific task to monitor and report about any irregularities. The game supervisor didn’t report any wrongdoing."
"For the IIHF, this case is closed."