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Targeted with racist behaviour, Smereck says change is overdue

Oct 1 (Reuters) – Ukrainian Hockey League (UHL) participant Jalen Smereck advised Reuters on Friday he would return to the ice regardless of an opponent focusing on him with racist conduct, however the American stated reform was lengthy overdue for the game.

A video exhibiting HC Kremenchuk ahead Andriy Deniskin peeling and consuming a banana in a gesture directed towards the HC Donbass defenceman, who’s Black, throughout a sport shocked the worldwide hockey group this week and prompted outcry over racism within the sport. learn extra

Deniskin was suspended for 13 video games – solely three of that are necessary if he pays an extra high quality 50,000 hryvnia ($1,900) high quality – resulting in additional outrage as critics, together with quite a few National Hockey League (NHL) gamers, known as the penalty too lenient.

“When I came here I kind of figured I’d be on my own and, you know, it’d be tough,” Smereck, 24, advised Reuters. “I kind of knew that I would face some racial incidents but I definitely never thought it would be something like this.

“It’s gone too far. I believe, 2021, any such stuff shouldn’t be occurring.”

Smereck said Deniskin had not reached out to him directly, aside from an attempted apology immediately after the game.

The American has been in touch with Evgeniy Kolychev, the former general manager of the UHL who told Reuters on Friday he was sacked for speaking out against racism and not preventing a video of the incident being published on the league’s official website. read more

But Smereck said that no one else from the league had contacted him since the incident – something he did not find particularly surprising.

“It’s in all places you go,” he said. “I’ve confronted it in each league, OHL, American League, so it’s going to be in all places you go. There’s no approach to cover from it, there’s no approach to go round it.”

Born in Detroit, Smereck picked up ice hockey when he was two years old and quickly fell in love with the sport, relishing the chance to meet new people and travel.

He had a stint under an entry-level contract with the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes prior to joining HC Donbass and said he generally liked playing in Ukraine, where he gets along with his team mates while daily errands like grocery shopping prompt attention from onlookers.

“I really feel just like the president or like LeBron James,” said Smereck, who idolises Jackie Robinson, a player who broke the racial barrier in Major League Baseball, and said he hopes to emulate the late sports pioneer.

Smereck has returned to the ice – largely out of loyalty to his team mates – but said he would not settle for the status quo in the sport and was determined to create change for the next generation of players.

“I actually need to reap the benefits of the second whereas there’s youngsters on the market seeing this, simply to allow them to know and attempt to actually get on high of this and flip it round in order that the children don’t have a look at this the incorrect means, and encourage them to play hockey.”

Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; further reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris

FILE PHOTO-HC Donbass player Jalen Smereck in action during the Ukrainian Hockey Championship match against HC Bilyi Bars in Kramatorsk, Ukraine September 20, 2021. Picture taken September 20, 2021. HC Donbass press service/Handout via REUTERS