Iran Risks World Chess Ban Unless It Backs Competing With Israelis
Iran risks being suspended from international chess tournaments beginning next month unless it publicly approves of Iranian players facing competitors from Tehran’s regional foe, Israel, according to a senior member of the game’s global governing body.In a Tuesday interview with VOA Persian from his home in Athens, Greece, Nigel Short, International Chess Federation (FIDE) vice president and a British grandmaster, said Iran would be suspended if the body’s general assembly passed a resolution that he introduced on November 8 and the Islamist-ruled nation did not change its position on competition with Israelis.“Iran would be suspended until we get some guarantees that this thing will not happen again,” Short said, in reference to his assertion that Tehran regularly has violated FIDE rules in recent years by pressuring its chess players to avoid facing Israelis in global tournaments.“This motion has not been passed yet, and I wouldn’t like to predict what the General Assembly will do [in its December 6 meeting],” Short said. “But it may well be passed.”Nigel Short Interview With VOA PersianSorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
FILE – Iranian men play chess in a street in Tehran, Feb. 23, 2016.In July, FIDE published Dvorkovich’s letter and Nikoukhesal’s reply. Nikoukhesal asserted that Iranian players make their own decisions about whom to compete against, without his organization rendering “any advisory opinion.”“Iran does not answer our questions directly,” Short said. “The Iranians just say, ‘We follow FIDE statutes,’ but clearly they do not.”Chess24.com said Iranian government pressure on players to boycott Israel has led several of them to defect, with Firouzja, who currently resides with his father in France, being the most prominent.Moscow competitionAfter forfeiting his game with the Israeli player in April 2019, Firouzja entered the 2019 World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship in Moscow, where he won a silver medal competing under the FIDE flag.Short cited Firouzja’s success as evidence that FIDE is not punishing Iranian players by increasing pressure on the Iran Chess Federation to change its practices.“We made it very clear, if Firouzja wants to play for FIDE, then he has to abide by the FIDE rules,” Short said. “If other Iranian players also are prepared to say they will follow FIDE statutes and compete against players from wherever, then we will be glad to facilitate and welcome them as well.”This article originated in VOA’s Persian Service. Click here for the original Persian version of the story.