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FIDE To Waive Transfer Fees For Russian Players Switching To Europe
The Russian women's team won gold at the 2021 European Team Championship but may not play another time. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

FIDE To Waive Transfer Fees For Russian Players Switching To Europe

PeterDoggers
| 67 | Chess Politics

In the likely event that the Chess Federation of Russia (CFR) will join the Asian Chess Federation (ACF), Russian chess players can start representing a European chess federation immediately without any restrictions or transfer fees. The FIDE Council decided on this policy on Tuesday.

FIDE has announced that the ACF is expected to accept the CFR among its federation members at their upcoming General Assembly, which will take place in Abu Dhabi on February 28. Russia's historic switch to Asia will come into effect on May 1, 2023, and after that, the CFR will no longer be a European Chess Union (ECU) member. The FIDE Council also announced on Tuesday measures to assist individual chess players who would like to join a European chess federation in the likely case that this will happen:

"Players previously belonging to the CFR will be allowed to represent their new federation with immediate effect, from the next day of submitting their application, without any restrictions. All transfer fees, to FIDE or CFR, are waived."

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, several Russian players have left their home country, including GMs Dmitry Andreikin, Vladimir Fedoseev, Alexander Predke, Kirill AlekseenkoAlexey Sarana, Nikita Vitiugov, and Evgeny Romanov. In a story published in May 2022, Chess.com spoke to some of them. While Romanov is representing Norway, all others play under the FIDE flag.

After the CFR leaves the ECU, these players will lose some of the benefits they have in Europe, such as participating in the different European championships. According to ECU President Zurab Azmaiparashvili, the ACF is "several years behind" the ECU in terms of structure and opportunities for players: "As part of the ECU, it will be an easier life, also for trainers," he told Chess.com.

In a statement by the ECU on Wednesday, Azmaiparashvili said he wants to support players who have been vocal against the war in Ukraine and wish to stay in Europe: "In this situation when the [CFR] takes a radical political step and leaves Europe, we are totally ready to close the doors behind them. But we need to provide at least a minimum remedy and treat fairly those players who did not act against the peaceful mission of sports and do not want to follow the [CFR] administration to Asia."

The statement further notes:

"While the ECU recognises the importance of the long-standing Russian chess history, the war in Ukraine and the political composition of the [CFR] administration creates a huge legal, political, and ethical gap between the [CFR] and the ECU."

"Now it is a matter for the Asian Continent to decide whether the [CFR] complies with its statutes, rules and values."  

Normally speaking, a federation accepting a new player has to pay a 5,000-euro transfer fee to FIDE. However, much more significant is the "compensation fee" that the Russian federation would receive if a player leaves. For players rated 2700 and above, that is as high as 50,000 euros; for players rated 2600 to 2699, it's 30,000 euros.

The FIDE Council decided that all transfer and compensation fees due to the CFR are waived for players registered there. They have until August 31, 2023, to decide on a transfer to one of the ECU's member federations and will have the right to represent the new federation in all official individual events of FIDE from the next day of submitting their application without any restrictions, provided that all other conditions for the transfer have been met besides paying the fees.

Alexandra Kosteniuk
Alexandra Kosteniuk might be among the first players to benefit from the FIDE Council decision. Photo: Maria Emelianova/Chess.com.

The decision is also good news for GM Alexandra Kosteniuk. The 38-year-old former women's world champion stopped playing for her native country Russia after the war in Ukraine broke out. A board member of the Swiss Chess Federation revealed in late December 2022 that Kosteniuk intends to start playing under the Swiss flag, a move that can now be made much earlier.

The decision by the FIDE Council to ease player transfers came after a recommendation from the ECU, which has been on a collision course with the CFR from the start of the war. In a statement on January 30, 2023, the European body said:

The ECU has taken a clear position, expressing its concern about the high-ranked Russia Security Council officials who are part of the [CFR]’s constitutional structure (Board of Trustees), including the Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu and the Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov.

"This makes the [CFR], a sports entity, not only politically exposed, but also exposed to the consequences of the war. We firmly believe that in such crucial moments for peace and safety in Europe, each federation should protect its independence as a sporting body."

The upcoming European Individual Chess Championship, which starts in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia, on March 3, has 48 players registered under the FIDE flag. Russian players who won't be switching to European federations can play both in this event and in the Asian Championship this year, since Russia's switch to Asia will be effective only on May 1.

As these tournaments are also part of the world championship cycle, the ECU explained in their statement:

"In order to avoid any ambiguity in the World Chess Championship Cycle qualifications, the ECU notes that all the players who have transferred to the FIDE flag and registered on time in accordance with the official invitation to play in the European Individual Chess Championships, that will take place in Serbia and Montenegro in March 2023, are eligible to do so. The events in Serbia and Montenegro conclude the current cycle at the European level which started in 2020. As for the next qualification cycle, the Russian players who do not transfer to ECU federations will belong to the Asian Continent and would not qualify from Europe if the transfer of the [CFR] takes place."


Earlier coverage:

PeterDoggers
Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

Peter has a Master of Arts degree in Dutch Language & Literature. He briefly worked at New in Chess, then as a Dutch teacher and then in a project for improving safety and security in Amsterdam schools.

Between 2007 and 2013 Peter was running ChessVibes, a major source for chess news and videos acquired by Chess.com in October 2013.

As our Director News & Events, Peter writes many of our news reports. In the summer of 2022, The Guardian’s Leonard Barden described him as “widely regarded as the world’s best chess journalist.”

In October, Peter's first book The Chess Revolution will be published!


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