Ali Nihat Yazici: "I wanted to shake the chess world"
On June 7th we reported that the organizers of the upcoming Olympiad in Istanbul, the Turkish Chess Federation, will not accept arbiters from seven chess federations. A few days later these federations issued a formal protest to FIDE. More criticism followed, from the Association of Chess Professionals, the European Chess Union, the Russian Chess Federation and GM Suat Atalik. TCF President Ali Nihat Yazici: "To call this a ‘ban’ is not correct. What we have done was absolutely legal."
Ali Nihat Yazici | Photo by Anastasia Karlovich
Update 14:38 CET: shortly after we published this article, Yazici distributed a statement in which he resigns as FIDE Vice President. See below this article.
Early June, the Olympiad arbiters controversy started with an article on the FIDE website. It became clear that arbiters from England, France, Georgia, Germany, Switzerland, Ukraine and USA are not welcome at this year's Chess Olympiad, which takes place from August 27th tlll September 10th in Istanbul, Turkey. The organizers, the Turkish Chess Federation, announced that they will not accept arbiters from federations that "launched or supported court cases against FIDE and thus created financial problems for FIDE and a loss of distributable income for worldwide chess development."
As we explained in our report, Yazici's action is a repercussion for two court cases that took place during and after the last FIDE Presidential elections. The TCF President argues that as a result of these cases, FIDE has spent huge amounts of money on lawyers, money that could have been spent on the development of chess.
We predicted that the decision by the Turkish Chess Federation would meet strong criticism, and it didn't take long. A few days later, the federations issued a formal protest to FIDE, stating that the measure by the TCF is in breach with both the FIDE Statutes and the FIDE Code of Ethics. Shortly after, the Association of Chess Professionals also reacted negatively to the arbiters ban.
European Chess Union
On June 13th, ECU President Silvio Danailov sent a letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov which was included in #79 of the ECU Newsletter (PDF here). Danailov points out that six out of ten arbiters recommended by the European Chess Union were not accepted. Four of these six are members of national federations which have had court cases against FIDE in CAS. Danailov:
(...) having a court case in CAS is stated in the FIDE Statutes as a completely accepted part of legal procedure. Therefore, national federations which are part of that procedure cannot be responsible on any grounds which are not legal. Even if they are responsible, certainly Arbiters are not the first and only who should take responsibility on behalf of their national federations. By the way, it is well known that the Turkish Chess Federation is suing the ECU. Does this mean that the ECU should boycott all the Turkish Arbiters in future?
Russian Chess Federation
One day later, on June 14th, the Russian Chess Federation also reacted strongly against Yazici. In a statement (in both Russian and English) on their website, the RCF follows ECU in defending the universal right to take legal action.
Defending a principal position in court is the right of any person as well as of any chess federation – member of FIDE. It is the basis of democracy and a guarantee of development of any organization. Moreover, the right to submit lawsuits is stipulated in FIDE’s Charter. Consequently, Anatoly Karpov and the federations which have appealed to court followed the civil norms and rights of any civilized society.
However, the statement and the intentions of Ali Nihat Yazici cannot be considered as such. His announcement sounds as if political differences are to intrude into the Game, not to mention the fact that the referees would lose their only source of income which is unfair play.
The Russian Chess Federation then appeals to Kirsan Ilumzhinov for a clarification whether the statement is an official position of FIDE or Mr. Yazici’s personal initiative.
(...) the Russian Chess Federation strongly believes that the only acceptable course of action for FIDE would be to disavow the above statement, offer the job to the excluded referees and summon up the courage to apologize for the notorious statement to the chess federations and all chess fans across the world.
Ali Nihat Yazici
After all the criticism, we asked Yazici to clarify his decision a bit more. Did he expect this criticism?
Yes, I was expecting this criticism from those seven federations, plus some others. I was expecting even more reaction to tell you the truth! But this was my target; I wanted to shake the chess world. I succeeded partly in that and I hope that in the FIDE General Assembly in Istanbul we will have a more serious discussion about this issue.
Yazici say that other FIDE officials were insisting on having these arbiters, suggesting a certain level of disagreement on this matter at the top of the World Chess Federation. However, he persisted.
As organizers, we pushed for our proposal to reject those federations’ arbiters, as it was our legal right to do. Keep in mind that according to the regulations, there are no legal rights of the federations for the arbiters’ appointments. We have got more than 120 proposals for arbiter positions, and only 65 places to fill. We could easily make our selection without any statement, but we did not want to do that. Please check my statement again, we clearly mention there what we were aiming at.
Despite all the criticism, Yazici is not intending to reconsider the ban of the arbiters.
First, let me explain to you that this is not a ban. Seven federations have sued FIDE with two different cases, playing a political game which is pushed by Garry Kasparov. He even guaranteed their court costs! After the nominations of the FIDE Vice-Presidents in Khanty-Mansiysk, we had a second attempt to sue FIDE again.
It is clear in the case of the Vice-Presidents that there was no damage done at all. On the contrary, FIDE had a great benefit by getting more volunteers to work. In both cases Garry Kasparov guaranteed to the suing federations that their court expenses will be covered by his side.
Ali Nihat Yazici: "It was our legal right to do."
The main point made by the federations, the ECU and the RCF was that the decision by the TCF is in fact against the FIDE Statutes. There, equal rights are proclaimed, and "it rejects discriminatory treatment for national, political, racial, social or religious reasons or on account of gender." How does Yazici justify his decision?
If they think so, they can go to the FIDE Ethics Committee. But I don't agree. The FIDE Statutes don't say which federations should send arbiters and which not. It's not discrimination. We have the right to choose or not.
The main target of these actions wasn’t justice, but to create problems for FIDE and, if possible, cause it to collapse financially. In my opinion this is unethical. So, my action is not a ban against the federations simply because they supported Garry Kasparov in the court cases, but a matter of principle. These federations, for purely political reasons, have sued FIDE before the last election, trying to postpone it.
What was the reason? It is obvious that this is a political game and the Turkish Chess Federation cannot accept that FIDE loses so much money in court cases instead of helping many federations, instead of supporting the development of chess and the FIDE Commissions.
This is a stupid political game of Garry Kasparov. He tries to present himself as a potential candidate for the FIDE presidency and he believes that if he burns the house down, it will be easy to take it as a ruin. We have to give a strong message to the chess world, that this unethical game should be stopped. Therefore, to call this a ‘ban’ (as you and many other people do) is not correct. What we have done was absolutely legal.
It was a matter of choice, our choice – we were not obliged to specify any particular arbiters from any particular federation or federations. I should also point out, in case your readers do not know this, that the Turkish Chess Federation not only appoints the arbiters, it is we who pay for their accommodation and even a stipend.
For me the case is closed. There is no chance of changing this. All those unethical actions of the seven federations should stop. Of course, any individual can expect a typical warm Turkish welcome at the Olympiad, including all the would-be arbiters we have chosen not to select.
We also asked Yazici to respond to the letters (see above) from Silvio Danailov (representing the European Chess Union) and Ilya Levitov (representing the Russian Chess Federation).
Danailov’s main election motto was "I know". Until now he proved that he knows nothing – He says that he is still learning and needs much more time to learn. We hope that in a certain moment he will eventually learn that there is no place for those dirty games in our chess world. Today he plays with Garry Kasparov; tomorrow, who knows...
In the last General Assembly of the ECU in Porto Carras, Danailov declared that they had found €100,000 of sponsorship for chess in schools. However, that money never reached the ECU accounts; it went directly to the Kasparov foundation! We hope that this is not the money used to sue FIDE! But it is already a scandal that this money went somewhere else – Danailov sees no problem… Those guys, they do not have any idea about chess management. Danailov and Kasparov are in the elementary grade for that subject.
When we come to the open letter of the Russian Chess Federation... my dear friend and colleague in the FIDE Presidential Board, Ilya Levitov, has his own agenda for the future, and he plays his own game with Garry Kasparov. In the last FIDE World Championship in Moscow, I have seen this with my own eyes. I am sure that Mr. A.Dvorkovich knows nothing about it – Levitov is behaving today as if he was the Russian Chess Federation! He plays his own game, but we have recorded it in our notebook...
We hope that our excellent relations with the Russian Chess Federation will not be affected negatively due to this issue. But I am fully convinced that Ilya has arrangements with Garry.
I would like to ask him: does he agree with those court cases against FIDE? Isn’t it unethical what G.Kasparov is doing? What is his opinion? It would be nice to hear...
GM Suat Atalik
Meanwhile, we also received an open letter written by GM Suat Atalik (PDF here). The Turkish grandmaster, a long-time enemy of Ali Nihat Yazici, says he was "not surprised" about the exclusion of the arbiters from seven federations.
Around the same time he asked for my exclusion from the 1st Grand European Open which took place in Golden Sands Bulgaria. His reason [is] that I am the only Turkish chess player who refused to sign an undertaking with the federation nor to ask permission to play in abroad.
The Turkish Chess Federation requests all of its members to ask permission to play abroad. Besides, a player has to sign an undertaking (PDF here) in which he states that he is responsible for all financial consequences of his participation in a tournament abroad, that he will "act in accordance with the responsibilities of a national athlete" and that he won't commit "any activity against Turkish Republic".
Not only this whole requirement stands against the human rights, it proclaims the chess player a potential criminal.
says Atalik, who is the highest rated player in Turkey. He further points out that he was suspended from play by a disciplinary committee with 3 months in 2008, and with 15 months in 2012-2013. According to Atalik this was the result of his refusal to sign the undertaking.
GM Suat Atalik: "It proclaims the chess player a potential criminal."
Also on Friday, Atalik forwarded the email thread between the organizers of the Golden Sands tournament and Yazici. The TCP President tells the organizers that Atalik's suspension.
should be followed by FIDE and all member federations of FIDE. (...) We protest this situation. We want FIDE clarify the situation and intervene to exclude Mr. Atalik from Golden Sands Tournament. We keep all our legal rights to appeal in GA in Istanbul and in international sport courts and diplomacy.
However, Atalik (and his wife Ekaterina) did finish the tournament. Yazici:
We will react to this not only in sport court, but also in criminal court.
Update 14:38 CET: shortly after we published this article, Yazici distributed a statement (PDF here) in which he resigns as FIDE Vice President. He finishes the letter as follows:
Our decision is one of principle and I do not want people to think that I have done this because two federations have sued FIDE over the number of nominated FIDE Vice- Presidents. I declared in the Krakow Executive Board of FIDE that I was ready to resign in order to solve that court case on the condition of costs being covered by the appellant. I know that the court case will finish on 29 June 2012. To demonstrate that this action is nothing personal, that it has nothing to do with me being one of the Vice-Presidents concerned (it has been alleged that it does), I have decided to submit my resignation from the position of FIDE Vice-President to the FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and I would like to thank him for the unlimited trust he has shown me all these years.
I personally don’t need any title in order to stick by my principles and to contribute to the chess world. And for the rest of my life I will continue my work in this direction.
For those who want to see more details about my views and the background of this story, they can follow my recent interview with ChessVibes.
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