International Chess Federation—FIDE—has launched an investigation
Turkish organizers of the an international chess tournament in Sivas (Sepastia), Turkey have withdrawn an invitation to Armenian chess champion Maria Gevorgyan at the behest of the Azerbaijani delegation, which reportedly threatened to boycott the event if there was going to be an Armenian in the tournament, the BBC reported.
Furthermore, Gevorgyan, who is a three-time women’s chess champion of Armenia, was threatened with a lawsuit by the Turkish organizers after she took to social media to announce her removal from the tournament and express outrage at the situation.
The International Chess Federation (FIDE), under whose auspices the Sivas Buruciye Chess Open 2019 international chess tournament is being held, has launched an investigation.
“FIDE is acting,” said international chess body’s representative Emil Sutovsky in response to a complaint filed by the Armenian’s Chess Federation. “We already started the investigation. It will be quick. And the punishment for those found guilty will be serious,” reported news.am.
Gevorgyan, who is a FIDE world champion, said that she had a busy summer of tournaments around the world, prompting her to decide to skip the Sivas tournament, until she received an official invitation from organizers on August 7.
After she agreed to attend, an organizer, Mustafa Eroglu, contacted her to withdraw the invitation, explaining that Azerbaijani chess players had asserted that if there were an Armenian in the tournament, they would refuse to participate.
“In every country, wherever I speak, I always respected all opponents, regardless of their nationality or political views,” Gevorgyan wrote on her Facebook page, saying that rescinding her invitation because of her nationality was considered extremely offensive.
Her Facebook post prompted Ergolu to threaten Gevorgyan with a lawsuit, claiming that she violated the confidentiality of her correspondence, which she had also posted on the social media site. She said her Facebook post aimed “to raise the issue so that everyone knows there is racism in sports as well.”
Gevorgyan explained to news.am that the organizers had told her that they would make travel accommodations for her. They later informed her that the airline tickets were expensive prompting her to inform them that she would cancel her participation. However, the organizers insisted that she take part in the tournament. Hours later, Gevorgyan explained, Eroglu informed her about the Azerbaijani ultimatum, upon which she withdrew from the tournament.
“Mustafa’s message made it clear that the organizers are declining Armenia’s participation and won’t cover my expenses. The Armenian Chess Federation got involved and sent a letter to FIDE to explore the matter,” Gevorgyan told news.am.
“FIDE requested that the organizer of the tournament present the petition of the Azerbaijani athletes regarding the Armenian chess player’s participation. I contacted Mustafa Eroglu, but he didn’t submit any document,” explained Gevorgyan in the interview with news.am.
Gevorgyan believes that there was never an official letter submitted by Azerbaijan, but rather a discussion between the Turkish and Azerbaijani parties that resulted in her invitation being rescinded. She said that the Armenian Foreign Ministry had already contacted her.
“Chess has always brought people together. People from different nations have played together. I have always respected each opponent, without attaching importance to the opponent’s nationality. The fact that there is such discrimination in sports and that there is such an action against me is very painful. I don’t know why this happened. In any case, I think this issue should be in the spotlight,” Gevorgyan told news.am last week.