International Ice Hockey Federation

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International Ice Hockey Federation
Fédération internationale de hockey sur glace
Internationale Eishockey-Föderation
IIHF logo.svg
Formation15 May 1908;113 years ago (1908-05-15)
Founded at Paris, France
Type Sports federation
Legal statusGoverning body of
Ice hockey
PurposeSport governance
Headquarters Zurich, Switzerland
Region served
81 members
Official languages
English, French, German
René Fasel

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF; French : Fédération internationale de hockey sur glace; German : Internationale Eishockey-Föderation) is a worldwide governing body for ice hockey and in-line hockey. It is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and has 81 member countries. Over two thirds of registered members are North-American.


The IIHF maintains the IIHF World Ranking based on international ice hockey tournaments. Rules of play for IIHF events differ from hockey in North America and the rules of the National Hockey League (NHL). Decisions of the IIHF can be appealed through the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IIHF maintains its own hall of fame for international ice hockey. The IIHF Hall of Fame was founded in 1997, and has been located within the Hockey Hall of Fame since 1998.


IIHF Headquarters in Zurich (Villa Freigut, Enge). IIHF Headquarter Zurich.JPG
IIHF Headquarters in Zurich (Villa Freigut, Enge).

The main functions of the IIHF are to govern, develop and organize hockey throughout the world. Another duty is to promote friendly relations among the member national associations and to operate in an organized manner for the good order of the sport. [1] The federation may take the necessary measures in order to conduct itself and its affairs in accordance with its statutes, bylaws and regulations as well as in holding a clear jurisdiction with regards to ice hockey and in-line hockey at the international level. The IIHF is the body responsible with arranging the sponsorships, license rights, advertising and merchandising in connection with all IIHF competitions.

Another purpose of the federation is to provide aid in the young players' development and in the development of coaches and game officials. On the other hand, all the events of IIHF are organized by the federation along with establishing and maintaining contact with any other sport federations or sport groups. The IIHF is responsible for processing the international players' transfers. It is also the body that presides over ice hockey at the Olympic Games as well as over all levels of the IIHF World Championships. [2] The federation works in collaboration with local committees when organizing its 25 World Championships, at five different categories.

Even though the IIHF runs the world championships, it is also responsible for the organization of several European club competitions such as the Champions Hockey League or the Continental Cup.

The federation is governed by the legislative body of the IIHF which is the General Congress along with the executive body, which is the Council. The Congress is entitled to make decisions with regard to the game's rules, the statutes and bylaws in the name of the federation. It is also the body that elects the president and the council or otherwise known as board. [3] The president of the IIHF is basically the representative of the federation. He represents the federation's interests in all external matters and he is also responsible that the decisions are made according to the federation's statutes and regulations. The president is assisted by the General Secretary, who is also the highest ranked employee of the IIHF.


The International Ice Hockey Federation was founded on 15 May 1908 at 34 Rue de Provence in Paris, France, as Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG). [4] The 1920 Olympics were the first to integrate hockey into their program.

The Poland men's national ice hockey team debuted at the 1928 Winter Olympics. Polish ice hockey national team St. Moritz 1928.jpg
The Poland men's national ice hockey team debuted at the 1928 Winter Olympics.

The 1928 Winter Olympics, which also served as the World and European Championship for the year, saw a record 11 countries participate. [5] The 1936 Winter Olympics set a new record with 15 participants.

The Hungarian Revolution of 1956 which had caused Hungary to be occupied by the Soviet Army, led to a boycott of the 1957 World Championships, which were being staged in Moscow. Canada and the United States led the boycott, and were joined by Norway, West Germany, Italy, and Switzerland. [6]

The 1962 World Championship, hosted by the American cities of Colorado Springs and Denver, was boycotted by the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, which led to a further boycott by the other Eastern Bloc countries. At issue was the boycott of the 1957 championships in Moscow by Canada and the United States, and the Americans refusal of East German passports in reaction to the building of the Berlin Wall by East Germany. [7]

For the 1965–66 season, the IIHF created the European Cup, a tournament consisting of the top club teams from around Europe. The competition was originated by Günther Sabetzki, based on the Association football European Cup (now UEFA Champions League). In 1968 the IIHF organized the European U19 Championship, a junior competition for players aged 19 and under. The age limit was later reduced to 18 in 1977. [6]

During the 1980s Canada stopped boycotting the World Championships and Olympic Games. The Canadians had boycotted these tournaments between 1970 and 1976 after the IIHF had refused to allow them to roster professional players at the World Championships from NHL teams that had not qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs. President Sabetzki managed to find a compromise that resulted in the return of Canada to international events beginning in 1977. The pro players whose teams had been eliminated from the playoffs were allowed to compete and in exchange, Canada agreed to participate in the World Championships. They also waived their right to host any World Championships. The creation of the Canada Cup (a competition organized by the NHL in Canada every four years) was also part of the new agreement between the IIHF and North American professional hockey. [7]

The IIHF continued to grow in numbers during the 1980s and 1990s, both due to political events and the continued growth of hockey worldwide. The dissolution of the Soviet Union saw its membership transferred to Russia, and the addition of four ex-Soviet republics; Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine to the federation. In addition, the memberships of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania - all of which had initially joined the IIHF in the 1930s but were expelled following their annexation by the Soviet Union - were renewed. The breakup of Yugoslavia also resulted in an increase in membership. Croatia and Slovenia joined as new members, while the membership of the old Yugoslavia was transferred to FR Yugoslavia (which later became known as Serbia and Montenegro and still later dissolved into the independent republics of Serbia and Montenegro). When Czechoslovakia broke up, its membership rights were transferred to the Czech Republic and Slovakia was admitted as a new member. The influx of new members resulted in the IIHF increasing the size of the Group A tournament. It expanded from 8 teams to 12 in 1992 and from 12 to 16 in 1998. [8]

The IIHF celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2008. As part of the celebrations, the 2008 World Championship was held in Canada for the first time (the tournament was co-hosted by the cities of Halifax and Quebec City). [9] To commemorate the anniversary, the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team was chosen by votes.

The number of members grew in the 21st century: Chile (2000), Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001), Liechtenstein (2001), North Macedonia (2001), the United Arab Emirates (2001), Macau (2005), Malaysia (2006), Moldova (2008), Georgia (2009), Kuwait (2009; had originally joined in 1985, but was expelled in 1992), Morocco (2010), Kyrgyzstan (2011), Jamaica (2012), Qatar (2012), Oman (2014), Turkmenistan (2015), Indonesia (2016), Nepal (2016), the Philippines (2016), Algeria (2019), Colombia (2019), Iran (2019), Lebanon (2019), and Uzbekistan (2019). [8]

The IIHF received widespread international criticism for holding the 2014 Men's Ice Hockey World Championships in Belarus because of the poor human rights record of the country. Several human rights organisations launched the "Don’t play with the dictator!" boycott campaign [10] and there were appeals from the US Congress, German Parliament and the European Parliament. [11] The IIHF again received criticism for planning to partly hold the 2021 Men's Ice Hockey World Championships in Belarus. [12] [13] In January 2021, the IIHF withdrew the 2021 World Championship from Minsk due to safety and security issues during the political unrest, besides the COVID-19 pandemic and decided to solely hold the tournament in Riga, Latvia. [14]

On May 23, 2021 civilian Ryanair Flight 4978, which was enroute from Athens to Vilnius, was forced to land in Minsk and a passenger of that flight was detained. In protest, Latvian officials replaced the Belarusian state flag in Riga with the former flag associated with the Belarusian opposition groups, including at the 2021 IIHF World Championship display of flags. This was by order of Mayor of Riga Mārtiņš Staķis and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs. The IIHF issued a statement protesting the replacement of the flag, and IIHF president René Fasel asked the mayor to remove the IIHF name, its flag and its symbols from such sites, or to restore the flag, insisting that the IIHF is an "apolitical sports organization". [15] In response, Staķis said he would remove the IIHF flags. [16] [17]

IIHF Hall of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto has hosted the IIHF Hall of Fame since 1998. Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto.jpg
The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto has hosted the IIHF Hall of Fame since 1998.

Prior to the establishment of the IIHF Hall of Fame, the IIHF displayed a collection of historical artifacts from World Championships and the Olympic Games in temporary exhibits. From 1992 to 1997, the IIHF loaned its exhibits to the International Hockey Hall of Fame in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. [18]

The first step taken by the IIHF to create its own hall of fame was a proposal made in 1996, which was later ratified at the 1997 IIHF summer congress to host the museum in Zürich. [18] The approval came exactly 89 years from the foundation of the IIHF, with the purpose of honoring former international ice hockey players, builders (administrators) and officials. [19] The annual induction ceremony takes place on the medal presentation day of the Ice Hockey World Championships. [18] [19] The IIHF agreed with the National Hockey League to transfer its exhibits to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada, as of 29 July 1998. [18]


Current title holders

TournamentYearWorld ChampionNext edition
Men 2021 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 2022
U-20 Men 2021 Flag of the United States.svg  United States 2022
U-18 Men 2021 Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada 2022
Women 2019 Flag of the United States.svg  United States 2021
U-18 Women 2020 Flag of the United States.svg  United States 2021

Other national team tournaments

NHL participation


The IIHF is a relatively small organization, with about twenty members of staff employed at the headquarters in Zurich. [23]


Map of the world with current members of the IIHF. (Red indicates full members, blue indicates associate members and green indicates affiliate members.) IIHF members map.png
Map of the world with current members of the IIHF. (Red indicates full members, blue indicates associate members and green indicates affiliate members.)
Flag of France.svg Louis Magnus 19081912
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Henri van den Bulcke 19121914
Flag of France.svg Louis Magnus1914
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Peter Patton 1914
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Henri van den Bulcke19141920
Flag of Switzerland.svg Max Sillig 19201922
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Paul Loicq 19221947
Flag of Switzerland.svg Fritz Kraatz 19471948
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg W. G. Hardy 19481951
Flag of Switzerland.svg Fritz Kraatz19511954
Flag of the United States.svg Walter A. Brown 19541957
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bunny Ahearne 19571960
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Robert Lebel 19601963
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bunny Ahearne19631966
Flag of the United States.svg William Thayer Tutt 19661969
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Bunny Ahearne19691975
Flag of Germany.svg Günther Sabetzki 19751994
Flag of Switzerland.svg René Fasel 1994present

Chief Medical Officers


The federation has 59 full members: Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, North Korea, South Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Full members have a national body dedicated to the sport, and participate annually in the international championships. Only full members have voting rights.

In addition, there are 21 associate members and one affiliate member.

Associate members either do not have a national body dedicated to the sport, or do not regularly participate in the international championships. They are Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Brazil, Colombia, Greece, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Macau, Moldova, Morocco, Nepal, North Macedonia, Oman, Portugal, Singapore, and Uzbekistan.

Chile, an affiliate member, only participate in inline championships.

Registered players

Based on the number of registered ice hockey players, including male, female and junior, provided by the respective countries' federations. Note that this list includes 70 out of 81 IIHF member countries with more than 100 registered players as of June 2021. [27] [28]

CountryRegistered players % of registered players % of population
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Canada607,951
Flag of the United States.svg United States561,700
Flag of the Czech Republic.svg Czech Republic129,595
Flag of Russia.svg Russia100,701
Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden73,293
Flag of Finland.svg Finland71,063
Flag of Switzerland.svg  Switzerland30,655
Flag of France.svg France21,582
Flag of Germany.svg Germany21,336
Flag of Japan.svg Japan18,641
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Great Britain11,148
Flag of Slovakia.svg Slovakia10,970
Flag of Norway.svg Norway10,270
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China9,506
Flag of Hungary.svg Hungary7,802
Flag of Kazakhstan.svg Kazakhstan7,684
Flag of Austria.svg Austria7,670
Flag of Latvia.svg Latvia7,460
Flag of Belarus.svg Belarus5,525
Flag of Ukraine.svg Ukraine5,340
Flag of Denmark.svg Denmark5,147
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia5,137
Flag of Italy.svg Italy4,926
Flag of Poland.svg Poland3,770
Flag of the Netherlands.svg Netherlands3,528
Flag of South Korea.svg South Korea3,114
Flag of Mexico.svg Mexico2,690
Flag of Lithuania.svg Lithuania2,550
Flag of North Korea.svg North Korea2,400
Flag of Romania.svg Romania2,131
Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand1,791
Flag of Belgium (civil).svg Belgium1,760
Flag of Kyrgyzstan.svg Kyrgyzstan1,530
Flag of India.svg India1,502
Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey1,500
Flag of Slovenia.svg Slovenia1,254
Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia1,105
Flag of Argentina.svg Argentina980
Flag of Spain.svg Spain964
Flag of Bulgaria.svg Bulgaria932
Flag of South Africa.svg South Africa922
Flag of Chinese Taipei for Olympic games.svg Chinese Taipei878
Flag of Mongolia.svg Mongolia730
Flag of Serbia.svg Serbia714
Flag of Georgia.svg Georgia704
Flag of Iceland.svg Iceland675
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg United Arab Emirates590
Flag of Thailand.svg Thailand575
Flag of Israel.svg Israel570
Flag of Hong Kong.svg Hong Kong555
Flag of Croatia.svg Croatia550
Flag of Singapore.svg Singapore528
Flag of Luxembourg.svg Luxembourg492
Flag of Kuwait.svg Kuwait402
Flag of Uzbekistan.svg Uzbekistan369
Flag of Ireland.svg Ireland360
Flag of Turkmenistan.svg Turkmenistan347
Flag of Greece.svg Greece290
Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina.svg Bosnia and Herzegovina  289
Flag of Armenia.svg Armenia278
Flag of Malaysia.svg Malaysia260
Flag of Chile.svg Chile250
Flag of Iran.svg Iran233
Flag of Morocco.svg Morocco225
Flag of Lebanon.svg Lebanon208
Flag of the Philippines.svg Philippines203
Flag of Qatar.svg Qatar185
Flag of Indonesia.svg Indonesia135
Flag of Macau.svg Macau111
Flag of Colombia.svg Colombia110

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