UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

FIDE warns Iranian Chess Federation

The International Chess Federation (FIDE) has passed a resolution warning that it will impose sanctions on the Iranian Chess Federation if it continues to boycott Israeli players, or to express political views on its website in conflict with the FIDE charter, or if its officials and players make discriminatory comments.

The resolution was put forward at the 2020 FIDE Congress by the English Chess Federation and submitted by Nigel Short (FIDE VP) and Malcolm Pein (Delegate England)

The World Chess Federation is an international organization based in Switzerland that connects the various national chess federations and acts as the governing body of international chess competition. It also uses the International Chess Federation brand. It is very commonly referred to by its French acronym FIDE.

The motion, which was passed 80-12, with 15 abstentions on 6 December 2020 was as follows:

The FIDE General Assembly calls upon the Chess Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran to instruct all its registered players to respect the principles of the Olympic movement and FIDE Charter. Chess connects national cultures and traditions, and should not be used as a tool for division, boycotts and discrimination.

 The FIDE General Assembly urges the Chess Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran to make sure that there are no further incidents of boycotts; that officials and players refrain from making comments of a discriminatory nature; and that the federation website is no longer used as a medium to express political views that are in conflict with the FIDE Charter.

 Such incidents will compel FIDE to impose sanctions that may harm Iranian chess players. While supporting diplomatic ways to resolve the remaining differences, the FIDE General Assembly gives full authority to Council to impose any necessary and proportionate restrictive measures on the IRCF and/or its officials, should the circumstances warrant such actions.”

This resolution follow a series of blatant breaches of the FIDE code by Iranian players and officials including:

  • On 5 Jan 2019 the Iranian player Aryan Gholami refused to play against Ariel Erenberg from Israel at the Rilton Cup in Sweden and was subsequently congratulated by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, and honoured in various ceremonies.

  • In the 2019 Grenke Open, Alireza Firouzja forfeited his third round games as his opponent was an Israeli, Or Bronstein. Iranian media reported that it was a political move.

  • In the World Junior 2019 Arian Gholami refused to play against his Israeli opponent Alexander Zlatin in round 4, claiming he was ill, while failing to be checked by the official doctor. The Iran Chess Federation announced that the refusal to play the Israeli was deliberate.

  • In the World Junior 2019 in Chennai, Amin Tabatabaei failed to turn up for his 6th round match against his Israeli opponent. He said he was ill but refused to be checked by the official doctor. Iranian and Indian media announced it was a political move.

  • Mobina Alinasab was forced by political pressure not to play against an Israeli opponent in the Ellobregat Open 2019. She was subsequently honoured in a ceremony.

  • The Iranian Iraj Sabah was paired with Eran Wolf from Israel in round 2 of the 2019 FIDE World Senor Chess tournament in Romania. Due to political coercion he had no option but to withdraw. Iranian official media reported it was a political decision.

  • In January 2020 Pouya Idani played in the Gibralter Masters Chess Festal and due to political pressure he had to refuse to play against an Israeli opponent. Iranian official media reported that it was a political decision.

Jonathan Turner, UKLFI chief executive commented:  We congratulate Malcolm Pein on his continuing efforts to end discrimination against Israeli chess players contrary to the rules of FIDE and the International Olympic Committee”