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Swedish Coach Accuses Canada of Winning Unfairly

September 1, 1996

STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ Swedish hockey coach Kent Forsberg accused Canada of winning unfairly in its World Cup of Hockey opener against Russia.

``Canada cheated it’s way to victory,″ Forsberg said Saturday after Sweden’s practice at Globe Arena. ``They have made the whole country ashamed

``Canada didn’t earn two points against the Russians. They got them from the referee,″ added Forsberg, who watched the game on television.

``There are only losers after a game like than. The NHL referees have been very good in the European (World Cup) games. The other teams won’t stand a chance if poor officiating continues in North America.″

Forsberg complained about two apparent Russian goals that were disallowed and what he called a one-sided freedom given to the Canadian players during Canada’s 5-3 victory Thursday night at Vancouver, British Columbia.

NHL senior vice president Brian Burke said both calls in question ``were absolutely, dead-on right. From the NHL’s perspective, both calls were flawless.

``I have no idea what led to this outburst,″ he said between periods of the Canada-United States game Saturday night in Philadelphia. ``Based on these quotes, I would wonder if Mr. Forsberg even saw the game.″

All referees in the World Cup are from the NHL and Canadian-born ``and that’s not fair,″ Forsberg said.

``I guess all European nations pointed this out to the organizers, but nothing happened. We had a great chance to make a lot of hockey propaganda in this tournament. Instead, the game of hockey will be the loser.″

Burke said the majority presence of NHL players in the tournament led to the exclusive use of NHL officials.

``There was never any discussion of using anything other than NHL officials in this tournament,″ Burke said. ``It’s based on a style of play. A good, hard hit is a penalty in Europe. It was decided from the get-go that we would use NHL officials.″

One goal was voided because a television replay clearly showed six Russian attackers on the ice, while play on the other was blown dead on a controversial call that the net was dislodged from its moorings.

``We reviewed both calls with Russians,″ Burke said. ``After I explained the goals they seemed they satisfied. There was no further objection.″

Aftonbladet, the second largest evening newspaper in Sweden, devoted one full page on the Canada-Russia game Saturday under the headline ``Kanadas Cup″ (Canada’s Cup), the tournament’s old name.

``Or maybe we should change it to Canada’s Coupe (d’Etat),″ wrote columnist Peter Wennman.

``That is what it’s all about: every fifth year or so Canada forces the hockey world on its knees _ with weapons drawn and bank robber’s masks covering their faces ... I watched the tape of the game and I got sick ...

``The World Cup is a tournament as unsportsmanlike as the Canada Cup ... It’s sad for the tournament and Canada’s opponents. But it’s also sad for Canada. The Canadian stars are so skilled and talented that they could win without any help (from the referee).″

Aftonbladet said it received hundreds of phone calls, faxes and e-mail from angry Swedish fans who watched the game, which didn’t end until 5 a.m. because of the time difference. One fan suggested that Swedish Ice Hockey Federation president Richard Fagerlund should consider Sweden’s withdrawal from the tournament.

Sweden faces Finland on Sunday in a game that will decide which team from the European group advances to the semifinals of the inaugural World Cup. Both teams are 2-0.

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