FIDE, Saudi Arabia and a fist full of $$$
Hard to walk away…
Sports and politics, in principle, do not mix but realpolitik has changed all of this. When FIDE accepted Saudi Arabia’s bid to organize the 2017 World Rapid and Blitz Championships, FIDE’s top leadership knew exactly what it was getting into and what was going to happen. Israeli players were never going to be allowed to participate…but the money was too good to turn away.
Then there were the very controversial issues of Human Rights abuse, Women’s Rights and Yemen, just to name the ones can come readily to mind. Some players boycotted the Riyadh tournaments merely because of these issues. Most did not.
Two million dollars in prize money for less than a week’s work is unheard of in the chess world and something difficult to turn down. For most, a good result in either of the tournaments could mean an entire year’s salary.
For this reason, I do not censure any player who participated in Riyadh.
But I find it slightly distasteful when any of the participants publicly tries to put a positive PR-spin on their presence in Riyadh.
Deflecting the issue that his or her participation served nothing other than the basest interests of the Saudi Arabia regime. Naively insinuating that next year it will be different because there is so much good will in Saudi Arabia and FIDE.
I have no problem with players admitting that they played for the money and couldn’t care less about any of the above controversial issues. Better to say nothing than anything different.
Besides, why should Saudi Arabia care about chess players’ opinions? Chess players can be bought, cheaply, and next year will be no different. And Carlsen will probably be there, too, regardless of Israel’s participation status.
“We Are The Sum Total Of Our Choices…”