Nigel Short faces the FIDE Ethics Committee

5/9/2007 – Recently Nigel Short, grandmaster and chess columnist, gave an interview to the Indian newspaper DNA, in which he was critical of the activities of FIDE officials during the 2005 World Championship tournament in San Luis, Argentina. Now Nigel is being hauled before the FIDE Ethics Committee, accused of defamation. Here's a Daily Telegraph article and the Ethics Committee rules.

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Short accused of libel

By IM Malcolm Pein

There have been some laughable episodes in Fide over the years but I thought Nigel Short was joking when he told me that he has been hauled before the Fide Ethics Committee accused of defaming Fide Vice President Zurab Azmaiparashvili and Deputy President Georgios Makropoulos. Given the antics of this pair over the years I cannot see how this is possible.

At issue is an interview the former world title finalist gave on 30th January 2007 to the Indian newspaper DNA. Short heard of the move in a letter from Fide which did not reveal the source of the complaint.


Nigel Short working as a commentator in San Luis

Short was a commentator at the Fide World Championship which was held in the Argentinian town of San Luis in 2005 and the interview touched on some of the goings on there and the infamous ‘Toiletgate’ scandal at last years world title match at Elista between Vladimir Kramnik and Veselin Topalov. The whole issue was so mishandled by the Fide officials that it nearly caused the termination of the match and Kramnik eventually defaulted a game rather than walk away.

In his interview Short was highly critical of Azmaiparashvili and Makropoulos who were both on the Appeals Committee in San Luis and Elista:

"The Fide Deputy President + Vice President spent more time at the hotel 16 km away despite being paid 1000s of dollars plus considerable expenses to do their job on the Appeals Committee. It came as absolutely no surprise to me that these dumbheads would flunk the first crisis they were presented with (Elista). I might add that Azmai is singularly inappropriate for such work having by his own admission cheated to win the 2003 European Championship."


Nigel in front of the lake and the hotel venue in San Luis, in October 2005

The letter from Fide accuses him of violating articles 2.2.10 and 2.2.11 Fide code of ethics. Short is unrepentant and intends to use the simple defence of truth. He said: "I have nothing to retract and I look forward to humiliating them in any hearing or court."

We have asked FIDE officials to comment on the matter, and have indeed received a statement from the Chairman of the Ethics Commission Roberto Rivello. After clearing some open questions we will bring you this statement. In the meantime Roberto wishes to underline that the Short case is only one of many – and probably the least relevant – of the cases submitted to the Ethics Commission, and that the EC is following general procedural rules. "It is very important, particularly in the interest of Short and of the other defendants," writes Rivello, "that these are not the usual 'rumors', the pro or cons of some FIDE officers, but normal proceedings in front of a serious organ of sportive justice, as it happens in every other international sportive federation."


FIDE Code of Ethics

Approved by the 1989 General Assembly. Amended by 1996 Presidential Board as directed by 1996 General Assembly.

1. Introduction

1.1 The game and concept of chess is based on the assumption that everyone involved / concerned observe existing rules and regulations and attaches the greatest importance to fair play and good sportsmanship.

1.2 It is impossible to define exactly and in all circumstances the standard of conduct expected from all parties involved in FIDE tournaments and events, or to list all sets which would amount to a breach of the Code of Ethics and lead to disciplinary sanctions. In most cases common sense will tell the participants the standards of behavior that are required. If any participants in a FIDE event has any doubt as to the conduct which is expected of him or her, the FIDE officials present should be contacted or the local organizer who has been put in charge of the event.

1.3 Disputes arising during a game or tournament shall be resolved in accordance with the rules of play in existence at the time and with the tournament regulations.

1.4 This Code of Ethics is applicable to:

  • FIDE office bearers,
  • member federations, delegates and counselors,
  • affiliated organizations
  • organizers, sponsors
  • all competitors in FIDE registered tournaments.

This Code of Ethics shall govern what action may be taken against any person (meaning either an individual or organization) who deliberately or through gross negligence violate the rules and regulations of the game or neglect to observe the precepts of fair play.

2. Breach of Ethics

The Code of Ethics shall be breached by a person or organization who directly or indirectly

2.1 offers, or attempts to offer or accepts any consideration or bribe with a view of influencing the result in a game of chess or election into FIDE office.

2.2 in other respects acts contrary to this Code. Of particular importance in this respect are the following:

2.2.1 Fraudulence in the administration of any FIDE office or national federation office that affects other federations.

2.2.2 Office bearers who through their behavior no longer inspire the necessary confidence or have in other ways become unworthy of trust.

2.2.3 Organizers, tournament directors, arbiters or other officials who fail to perform their functions in an impartial and responsible manner.

2.2.4 Failure to comply with normally accepted standards of courtesy and chess etiquette. Misbehavior of a personal nature which is generally unacceptable by normal social standards.

2.2.5 Cheating or attempts at cheating during games and tournaments. Violent, threatening or other unseemly behavior during or in connection with a chess event.

2.2.6 Players withdrawing from a tournament without valid reason or without informing the tournament arbiter.

2.2.7 Gross or repeated violations of FIDE Laws of Chess or other approved tournament regulations.

2.2.8 In any top level tournament, players, delegations or teams must comply with a high standard dress code. Delegations includes both a player`s seconds and any other individual who the player allows to conduct business on behalf of the players. Players are responsible for the actions of acknowledged members of their delegations.

2.2.9 Players or members of their delegations must not make unjustified accusations toward other players, officials or sponsors. All protests must be referred directly to the arbiter or the Technical Director of the tournament.

2.2.10 In addition, disciplinary action in accordance with this Code of Ethics will be taken in cases of occurrences which cause the game of chess, FIDE or its federations to appear in an unjustifiable unfavorable light and in this way damage its reputation.

2.2.11 Any conduct likely to injure or discredit the reputation of FIDE, its events, organizers, participants, sponsors or that will enhance the goodwill which attaches to the same.

3. Breach of Ethics

The tournament officials will take all necessary steps to ensure the proper conduct of both games and tournaments according to the Laws of Chess and the tournament regulations.

3.1 FIDE federations, officials and affiliated organizations acting in contravention to this code can be temporarily excluded from membership or office.

3.2 Anyone acting in contravention of this code can be excluded from participation in all FIDE tournaments or from specific types of tournaments for a period of up to 3 years. Weight shall be given to the type of violation and to any previous violations in decided upon the length of the exclusion period.

3.3 Tournament arbiters who fail to act in accordance with the codes can lose their authorization or refused the right to supervise FIDE tournaments for a period of up to 3 years. In such cases any new authorization will only be granted accordingly to ordinary regulations.

3.4 Tournament organizers who act in contravention of the code, can be refused the right to organize FIDE events for a period of up to 3 years.

3.5 In the event of a player or member of delegation creates an unreasonable disturbance or distraction relating to rules, procedures or conditions, at the direction of the Appeal Committee, a player may be fined up to Five Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$5,000) and may be forfeited one or more games, depending on the disturbance.

3.6 In the case of physically or verbally aggressive or intimidating conduct of a player or a member of delegation towards any other individual involved with an event, FIDE may take any or all of the following actions:

  1. fine a player up to Twenty Five Thousand U.S. Dollars (US$25,000).
  2. rule that a player has forfeited a game or a match.
  3. if the offensive act was committed buy a member of the player`s delegation, ask such person to leave the event. Refusal by such a person to comply may result in penalties to the player as described.

4. Administrative Procedures

4.1 Breach of the regulations of this code by any Federation or FIDE official shall be reported to the FIDE Secretariat.

4.2 Breach of the regulations of this code by any person shall be reported to and decided by the FIDE Ethics Commission.

4.3 The proceedings shall be recorded in writing. Grounds must be given for any decisions taken and these must also be in writing.

4.4 Appeals against decision taken by any FIDE official can be submitted to the FIDE Ethics Commission. The appeal must be sent by registered mail together with a deposit of Two Hundred Fifty U.S. Dollars (US$250). The deposit will be returned should the appeal to all intents and purposes prove to be justified.

4.5 Any decisions made by the Ethics Commission may be the object of appeal arbitration proceedings in accordance with the Code of sports-related arbitration of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

4.6 The time limit for appeal is twenty-one days following the communication of the decision concerning appeal. All recourse to ordinary courts is excluded.

Pending cases of the Ethics Commission


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