Exotic countries joined the IIHF. The largest number of countries in 27 years.

By National Teams of Ice Hockey

The world hockey family has grown to 81 members. Today five countries from Africa, South America and Asia joined the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

Algeria, Iran, Colombia, Lebanon and Uzbekistan have become new associates of IIHF today. The decision was approved at the Half-Year Congress of the IIHF. This is the biggest number of countries joining the IIHF since 1992 when the IIHF grew by ten countries following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. 

New members have associate status. This is the second of three levels of membership. It means that they will not have the right to vote at congresses. This is the status of countries that have no independent hockey management association in a given country or have such associations if they do not appear in World championships competitions. There are currently 24 associated members in IIHF. 56 countries, including Poland, have full membership, and there is one affiliated with IIHF, because it only competes in roller hockey competitions. This country is Chile.

In Algeria, relations with France are mainly responsible for the development of hockey. The team of players of Algerian origin have already competed in the Arab Cup. According to IIHF, there are 97 hockey players in the country. The Algerian government is supporting the creation of a hockey school in the city of Setif where a current and only indoor permanent ice rink is based. A permanent ice rink is planned in a new shopping mall in Baraki close to Algiers, which will become the largest mall in Africa.

Data from from IIHF says  Iran has 100 men and 103 women playing hockey. The country has 6 indoor ice rinks and 23 teams. The national team played the match for the first time in 2017, facing the Macao team which was supposed to appear in the Asian Games at that time, but were disqualified because many players did not meet the admission criteria.

Colombia began performing internationally in 2014 at the Pan-American Tournament. In the next two years Colombia won the tournament by beating Mexico. There are officially 47 hockey male players and 25 female hockey players in the country, however, a big problem is the lack of an ice rink in the country. Columbia ice hockey is derived from roller hockey.  Colombia is the fourth IIHF member from South America. Argentina and Brazil are also associated members and Chile affiliate.

In Lebanon there are 36 males and 40 women playing hockey. The national team debuted in 2017 by winning 7: 4 against Haiti. Like Colombia, Lebanon does not actually have a single ice rink. A per-existing facility in Beirut was closed a decade ago. Last season, only a 20×20 meter ice rink was built in the country’s capital.

Uzbekistan has quite a rich hockey tradition and interesting perspectives. During the Soviet times the capital of Tashkent had a hockey team, Binokor, in the Soviet system that made it up to the second-highest league of the Soviet Union. . Binokor no longer exist, but Humo Tashkent joined Russia’s second-tier league VHL and with a farm team the top league of neighbouring Kazakhstan.

With the opening of the first ice rinks, Uzbekistan has launched a championship that recently included four clubs – Binokor, Humo, Tashkent and Semurg – and the Uzbekistan Ice Hockey Federation was established on 28 March 2018.

There are currently 369 hockey players registered in the country, including 252 juniors.

1 Comment

  1. Great news. Would be good to see these new members moving towards playing in IIHF events. Meeting eligibility rules is a huge challenge for Algeria , Colombia and Lebanon. Iran were disqualified from the Asian Winter Games over that issue. Uzbekistan look the best prospect for playing in the Challenge Cup of Asia or going straight into the World Championships like Turkmenistan did recently.

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