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Kovalyov Case Not Admitted By Ethics Commission
GM Zurab Azmaiparashvili (left) confronts GM Anton Kovalyov. | Photo: Chess.com/Maria Emelianova.

Kovalyov Case Not Admitted By Ethics Commission

FIDE's Ethics Commission has announced that it cannot admit the complaint from the Chess Federation of Canada about the Anton Kovalyov dress code incident at the World Cup due to "a lack of reliable evidence." A statement by the commission was issued after a meeting took place on Monday. Meanwhile, both Kovalyov and his federation have responded.

Perhaps taking into account the impact of the Kovalyov case on the chess world, FIDE decided to post the Ethics Commission's statement in full on its website. The short version is that the commission would have liked to take up the case, but couldn't because Kovalyov himself isn't cooperating and his federation cannot act on behalf of him.

As Canada's FIDE delegate Hal Bond announced in a comment to Chess.com, the Chess Federation of Canada (CFC) indeed filed a formal complaint to the Ethics Commission on Sept. 27. The federation is of the opinion that organizer Zurab Azmaiparashvili breached the FIDE Code of Ethics, in Bond's words because of his "abusive treatment" of Anton Kovalyov shortly before the start of the World Cup's third round.

Kovalyov, who had eliminated Vishy Anand in the second round, forfeited his third-round game and left the tournament after he had been summoned to change his attire. He was wearing shorts, but had done so in the first two rounds as well. (Find our first report on the incident here.)

The incident was heavily debated in the chess world and soon all key players provided comments, which you can find in our second report here

Anton Kovalyov leaving the World Cup playing hall. | Photo: Chess.com/Maria Emelianova.

Anton Kovalyov leaving the World Cup playing hall. | Photo: Chess.com/Maria Emelianova.

It was a fortunate coincidence that the FIDE Ethics Commission was meeting so shortly after the incident (the FIDE Congress is taking place this week!) and rather quickly after receiving the formal complaint from Canada. It is rather unfortunate that they cannot actually take up the case.

The Chess Federation of Canada stated that it was acting "in and for itself and on behalf of GM Anton Kovalyov," but the complaint was not supported by a statement from the player. The Ethics Commission requested "a power of attorney or letter of authorization under the signature of the player," making sure that Kovalyov agreed on being represented by his federation. The commission also stated that an "oral public hearing" was necessary.

However, none of this was met. As the statement reads:

"Subsequently the CFC advised that the player is not willing to participate in the public hearing, whether by his personal appearance in Antalya or by way of video-conferencing. The player also failed to provide the CFC with written authority for the federation to represent him."

As a result, the commission decided that it could not admit the case stating that "without authority from the player, it is not possible for his federation to proceed with the complaint on his behalf." The commission also stated that CFC does not have "a direct and personal interest which was adversely affected."

Meanwhile Kovalyov has commented on the Ethics Commission's decision via Facebook.

Kovalyov said he did give permission to his federation, but was never asked for his signature. "I never got any paper to sign from anybody."

He pointed out that he couldn't travel to Antalya but also did not want to join in a video call as he considers the whole affair a "circus." According to Kovalyov there were no impartial witnesses, and he criticised Azmaiparashvili for previous behaviour, and FIDE backing him. 

"So, to sum it up, I know that I'm not the brightest person, but I feel that I'm not stupid enough to testify against FIDE interests at a FIDE court."

Anton Kovalyov during his match with Vishy Anand at the World Cup. | Photo: Chess.com/Maria Emelianova.

Anton Kovalyov during his match with Vishy Anand at the World Cup. | Photo: Chess.com/Maria Emelianova.

Kovalyov also stated that he "will not play a single FIDE event again," but he does not intend to leave the incident as it is. "Currently I'm quite busy with my studies, but me and my parents will still try to find other more reasonable recourse to have justice served. Hopefully we will find support from Canadian authorities."

In a comment to Chess.com Vlad Drkulec, the President of the Chess Federation of Canada (CFC), said that he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the Ethics Commission's decision given the fact that Kovalyov did not want to testify. He said that his federation will continue to "press for some measure of justice."

Drkulec thinks it's in the interest of the player that the CFC acts on his behalf, and nulldoes not agree that a player's federation does not have standing in a situation like this, independent of the player's consent.

"It is the federation and not the player who is the member of FIDE. It is the federation that has the relationship with FIDE and has people that know how to navigate the dark and murky waters that the player is not equipped to handle without lawyering up."

He also noted that the federation actually had Kovalyov's consent in an email.

"[We] did not see his written, notarized consent a high priority with the very tight timelines we were faced with. Obviously if Anton had testified by Skype he could have stated at that time that he consented to our participation if that was an important consideration. This whole process seems geared toward a world that existed 20 or 30 years ago but has been rendered somewhat obsolete by developments in communications like email and internet.

"I understand that bureaucracies have rules but we cannot let these rules stand in the way of stopping this type of thing from happening ever again."

The Ethics Commission emphasized that their decision to not accept the case was not based "on the merits of the complaint." It seems that the commission itself regrets that it cannot, and the final paragraph does suggest that at least some FIDE officials agree that the chess world needs to learn from what has happened in Tbilisi.

"However, it is obvious that the incident between the organizer and player has revealed a number of grey areas in tournament administration and everyone agrees that there is a need for greater regulation on matters such as the dress code for players and officials at different types of events, clarity regarding the responsible persons to enforce such regulations and the appropriate handling of a situation where a player is held to be in violation of the regulations. All of these aspects will receive attention in the meetings of various FIDE Commissions currently taking place here in Antalya."


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