11 February 2014

FIDE Electioneering

There is a remarkable video on Youtube.com, Tata Steel Chess 2014 - Press conference - Garry Kasparov, that I've already referenced on my chess960 blog, in It's Not About Short Draws, Garry. Kasparov also discussed the current FIDE presidential election. A little after 24:00 into the clip, he had this to say.

I hope that [FIDE officials] will stop using the FIDE web site for their campaign. This is something that I think we -- I hope that journalists will help me to carry the message -- we have to understand that this is not Garry Kasparov's team against FIDE. This is Garry Kasparov vs. Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, and Kirsan Ilyumzhinov doesn't own FIDE.

Stop using these words 'FIDE did...'. No, it's Kirsan Ilyumzhinov's campaign and we have to teach them to separate these things: to separate the web site from campaign purposes. They cannot use it for publicizing the support of national federations. They have to do their own web site. They cannot use FIDE money to pay for the trips of FIDE officials to the Pacific or other regions to campaign.

If we are talking about transparency I would be very happy to hear who has been paying FIDE officials to travel around the world. Geoffrey Borg, Ali Nihat. Who is paying for them? They are campaigning; they are asking for federations to give them votes and I believe they are paid by FIDE, which is wrong.

While I would be the last person to characterize the random scribblings on this blog as journalism, I'm happy to 'carry the message', at least as I understand it.

First, if this election isn't about 'Garry Kasparov's team against FIDE', then Kasparov needs to work on his message. Two years ago I wrote a post titled Out to Ruin FIDE?. The two lawsuits mentioned in the post are still fresh in everyone's mind.

Second, I agree that FIDE must 'separate the web site from campaign purposes'. In December, I was surprised to read on Fide.com that the Russian Chess Federation supports Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Press releases like this are inconsistent with 'Gens una sumus'.

Third, Kasparov raises a good question about campaign expenses. FIDE answered a few days later in Statement of the Executive Director.

FIDE only pays Mr. Borg's expenses when they specifically relate to FIDE business, such as SportAccord. FIDE pays Mr. Yazici's expenses relating to his work as Chairman of the Chess in Schools Commission and his work for the FIDE Playzone.

The incumbent advantage of sitting FIDE officials already gives them a head start. The chess world shouldn't be expected to pay for more of the same. Having said that, I find the accusations are another example of 'Kasparov's team against FIDE'. Both sides can work on improving their approach to this election.

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