New FIDE Statutes approved; Kasparov friends with FIDE again
As is tradition, alongside the Olympiad in Istanbul the FIDE Congress was held. For a week officials and delegates got together to discuss chess related matters and vote on important projects and proposals. This week we look back and summarize the most important events of the 83rd FIDE Congress. In the first article, today we focus on the FIDE Statutes and Electoral Regulations and the speech Garry Kasparov gave.
The FIDE Congress was held 1-9 September at the Polat Hotel in Istanbul. FIDE officials, special committees and delegates from federations attended meetings, discussed proposals and took important decisions. Most of these decisions will come into effect July 1st, 2013.
During the first week there were sessions with e.g. the Rules & Tournament Regulations Committee, the Swiss Pairings Programs Committee, the Trainers Commission, the Chess in Schools Commission and the Ethics Commission, to name a few.
A number of proposed changes to the FIDE Laws of Chess were discussed and much of the discussion centered on the wording or clarity of the language. It was also decided that FIDE will run a parallel system of Glicko and regular ratings and then compare and evaluate next year. The Technical Committee drew up regulations for electronic score keeping devices on what the minimum standards they expect from a device, what it can and cannot do.
On the last three days there was the meeting of the General Assembly. As the highest authority of FIDE the GA exercises the legislative and executive power. It supervises the activities of the Executive Board, the Presidential Board, the President and also the other FIDE officials and organizations. It approves the FIDE budget, elects the Presidential Board, Ethics Committee, Verification and Constitutional Committees and determines the schedule of FIDE activities.
As always the General Assembly started with a speech by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, which was translated from Russian into English. The FIDE President talked for 18 minutes and among other things he said that he traveled extensively to promote chess. He thanked people involved and said FIDE's intention is to get "one billion people practice chess worldwide". After a question from French representative Leo Battesti about FIDE's operating expenses, Ilyumzhinov continued to talk about his achievements in the past year and suggested to speak further after the meeting.
Leo Battesti, Vice President of the French Chess Federation
Then the new FIDE Statutes and Electoral Regulations, which had been worked on for months, were discussed. In their decision of the court case earlier this year, the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in Lausanne had suggested that the FIDE Statutes needed to be clarified in order to avoid future problems and misunderstandings. As we reported earlier, the Bulgarian, English and American chess federations had hired the prestigious law firm White & Case to analyze the proposed changes to the statutes. The results of the analysis had been sent to the FIDE delegates. At the General Assembly the Chairman and FIDE Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos thanked everyone who worked on the new statutes.
Before the vote, President of both the European Chess Union (ECU) and the Bulgarian Chess Federation Silvio Danailov took the microphone. He objected to the proposal that if a federation wants to sue FIDE, a deposit of 200,000 Euro needs to be deposited as a bank guarantee. President of the Turkish Chess Federation and FIDE Vice President Ali Nihat Yazici objected to the same article, and instead wanted to see written that the loser of a court case pays all lawyer costs without any limits to the amount. FIDE Treasurer Nigel Freeman then explained that it's CAS that will decide on the amount of the deposit, and that it will be limited to a maximum of 200,000.
As the final draft had only been finalized the night before, delegate of the English Chess Federation Nigel Short requested that the vote for the Statutes to be postponed so that all delegates would have enough time to learn about all the changes. Head of the Russian Chess Federaton Ilya Levitov asked for a short presentation of the most important changes and this is what Makropoulos decided to do – he gave the word to Ms. Ank Santens of White & Case to explain their findings.
Santens started by stating that the rules are much clearer now. The main idea in the CAS provision is that a dispute first needs to be fought inside FIDE, and only then to CAS. Normally the path is to fight a decision at the President Board, then the Executive Board and then the General Assembly. If the time delay irrevocably harms the interest of the party then he can directly go to CAS after the Executive Board's decision. Decisions by the FIDE Ethics Commission can be directly disputed at CAS.
Ms. Santens also pointed out that an Electoral Commission will be put up. This commission will have two tasks in election years:
- to verify proxies;
- to decide any electoral disputes.
Ms. Santens explained that the idea behind the 200,000 Euro bank guarantee is that there will be funds to pay the winner's costs. If FIDE is sued at CAS and the party loses, FIDE will be granted the right to its reasonable legal fees and expenses in court, but this will be a proportion to FIDE's degree of success (determined upon by the CAS judges) and limited to 200,000 Euro. What's also new: the party that sues FIDE needs to disclose the source of its funds.
Another point that was discussed were the number of Vice Presidents – a sensitive point as it led to one of the two recent court cases against FIDE. It has been decided that during the elections there can be two Vice Presidents on a ticket. After the elections the President can nominate a certain number (between 3 and 5) of extra VPs and the General Assembly will need to approve of this number. To run for elected VP one needs to be put forward by three federations and each federation can only put forward one.
FIDE delegates voting at the General Assembly
The new Statutes were eventually accepted by the General Assembly, which can be seen as a big step to a more democratic FIDE. Garry Kasparov, who had supported the federations against FIDE both politically and financially, was then invited to the podium to address the General Assembly. He first sat down next to Ms. Santens but then was invited to sit next to Ilyumzhinov as "this would make a great photo" (Makropoulos). Kasparov smiled and started, but not before shaking hands with Ilyumzhinov, applauded by the GA.
Below you can watch Kasparov's speech. It was recorded by Sevan Muradian of the North American Chess Association, who put up hours and hours of footage of the FIDE Congress on YouTube. Below the video we give a transcript of the speech.
Mr President, Mr Chairman, officials, delegates,
I really appreciate the opportunity to address the assembly and I have to congratulate all of you with a historic achievement. There's enough said about the importance of this moment. After two years of turmoil and fighting, which has probably a political background, we came to a compromise which will eliminate all grounds for grievances and complaints. As all chess players know that when the game of chess is played, especially when a number of games have been played, mistakes were made by both sides and the two players go back and analyze it and come back with good solutions and good strategies for the future. And of course as chess players we understand the importance of the rules, the rules that have governed our game for centuries and the fact is that we all recognize the inefficiency of the rules drafted ages ago, in previous centuries, and we all worked so hard to make sure that these rules will apply to the demands of the 21st century especially after strong recommendations made by CAS, the Olympic tribunal in Lausanne, which shows that the heads of FIDE and federations stick to the principles of the Olympic movement and I believe we'll improve our standing in the eyes of the IOC.
Of course it doesn't mean that we have no more differencies, on the contrary, I am sure there will be disagreements and there will be fights inside. Yes I may disagree with a number of elements regarding management, I may not like for instance the Agon contract that we'll be discussig later, that was negotiated and drafted, but I think that's very natural. We will be fighting within one family and we will be fighting for reaching goals for a brighter future for chess.
I appreciate FIDE's emphasis now on education. I believe that alongside these goals of joining the Olympic family as a full member there is also a very important goal of penetrating the education system around the globe. In my view this is the real future of the game of chess because that's where we have no match with any other sport, mind sport or any other sport. Chess has proven to be a unique educational tool and it's in our power to prove it in all continents, in all quarters of the world. I'll be working aggressively on that with the Kasparov Chess Foundation in the United States, in Europe, in Africa, I see a lot of work done by FIDE and our member federations and I believe that that's the real path to our success.
I would just like to make the final comment saying that with all the differences, with all the fights that we'll have in the future, I believe that we have to concentrate not on the wrongdoings of the opposite side, not looking for these sort of weak spots and criticism, sometimes unfounded criticism, sometimes fair criticism. I would rather see us concentrating on the positive note. The competition in FIDE should be based on the ideas, not on who did something wrong in the past but rather who can do a better job for the future. We have great ideas and I believe that fighting together, even if we disagree on something, for the better future of chess, that's a noble goal. I will do my utmost in the years to come to prove that I have ideas that could make FIDE better, stronger and more transparent and I hope that the spirit that prevailed in this room today will be guiding our endeavors in the future. Thank you very much.
It seemed that at least for the moment peace has been declared with the handshakes between Kasparov and the FIDE board members that followed.
We'll report further on the FIDE General Assembly in the coming days.
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