The disgraceful remarks on women chess by GM Smirin were quickly met by a huge wave of criticism in the chess community. Initially, FIDE were slow to react, with FIDE’s Director General Emil Sutovsky claiming that Smirin will appear again on the official broadcast tomorrow. The next day FIDE overruled the words of Sutovsky, with an official statement on their page, saying:
During yesterday’s Women’s Grand Prix live broadcast, one of the announcers expressed some very embarrassing comments. Although we have great respect for Grandmaster Ilya Smirin as a chess player, the views he expressed on air are completely unacceptable, offensive, and do not represent any of the values that FIDE stands for. Therefore, we unreservedly apologise to all those who were offended. Additionally, GM Smirin will not continue as a FIDE commentator with immediate effect FIDE not only strives to increase women’s representation in professional sports and official positions but also to change the perception of chess as purely a men’s world. Our community has to be a place where women feel safe and respected. Therefore, any action that carries disrespect, seism or physical, verbal or emotional assault is unacceptable.
FIDE’s reaffirmation of their dedication to increase women’s representation in professional sport is applaudable. The Year of Women in Chess is a great initiative and it is good to see FIDE defending the values of the community.
ECU’s Secretary General Theodoros Tsorbatzoglou commented, “It’s really disgusting what happened today in the official commentary on the Women’s Chess Grand Prix. My full support for Fiona and the way she and all the other women were mistreated. But it’s not the first time this has happened and I have taken a stand many times too. These behaviours in sports cannot be tolerated and should be automatically sanctioned. They are on the same level as cheating. Let us put a stop to it, otherwise all our efforts will be ruined.”