International Chess Federation anger at breast augmentation sponsor for women’s chess

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For a sport that has struggled to attract female players, the news that chess has just secured the biggest sponsorship deal ever for the women’s game would be generally welcomed.

But the decision of the governing body of chess, Fide, to partner with breast enlargement company Motiva has come under increasing criticism from some players, who have called the decision “crass” and “gross”. “Misogynist”.

The new deal was announced earlier this week, with Fide announcing, “The deal will run until 2022, a year that has been dubbed ‘the year of women in chess.’ ”

However, several players, speaking to popular site Lichess, believe the decision is a mistake. “Chess – a game that relies on the brain rather than the breasts – shouldn’t they distance themselves from this kind of reductive and misogynistic thinking?” Said an anonymous player. Another was even more blunt, calling the deal “crass”.

Chess has only 39 female grandmasters out of around 1,300 in total, but in recent years it has done a lot more to promote the game of women. The success of Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit has helped, with several prominent players, presenters and streamers – including Judit Polgar, Jovanka Houska, Jennifer Shahade and Alexandra Botez – also helping to expand the popularity of the game.

Some players think Fide’s decision is too much of a sacrifice. “I’ve seen comments online from people saying they are hoping the prices for women’s events will now include breast augmentation,” said another unnamed player. “I’ve seen jokes citing the names of some of the best players as those who could be improved by this. Chess has fought against sexism in the past, and it did nothing to prevent it.

The players were speaking on condition of anonymity, Lichess said, as they often rely on Fide for tournament invitations.

However, Fide’s new contract has been well received by others, including international female master Sheila Barth Stanford. “We desperately need a sponsor,” said the Norwegian. “We play for less money than men, which makes it harder to bet on chess. I hope this will make it easier for women to play professionally.

Fide told the Guardian that this was the largest corporate sponsorship ever signed specifically for women in chess, and the contract had been discussed by both the board and the board of Fide. , “two bodies where women have a larger representation than they do in the chess community as a whole”.

He added: “Fide does not encourage plastic surgery, but if an adult freely makes this choice, our organization supports Motiva, a company that has demonstrated its strong commitment to women.

© Guardian News and Media 2021


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