FIDE Presidential Election: The Karpov campaign summation

by ChessBase
9/21/2010 – A week ago, on the basis of absolute neutrality, we invited the campaign managers of both candidates in the FIDE election to summarize their main policies, arguments and track-record, explain the areas of disagreement with the opposing side, and comment on the campaign itself. Only one of the teams accepted the invitation, and we therefore now give the summation by the Karpov campaign.

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Greetings to the readers and the global chess community from Anatoly Karpov and the Karpov2010 team members and staff. We also extend salutations to FIDE president Kirsan Nikolayevich Ilyumzhinov and his team. We wish them all good health and success in their future endeavors. Gens Una Sumus.

12th World Chess Champion Anatoly Karpov and his team began their campaign for the presidency of FIDE because the chess world is in crisis. In six months of campaigning across the globe, we have met and spoken with hundreds of federation officials, players, organizers, sponsors, and fans. Their passion for the game of chess gives us hope that our sport can have a bright future. But the stories they share about the sad state of FIDE today convince us that this future will never happen unless there is an immediate change in leadership and sweeping improvements in how FIDE operates.

Why Karpov?

Anatoly Karpov has dedicated his life to chess. The former World Champion’s qualifications to represent and to lead the international chess community with honor are indisputable. His experience and reputation make him the ideal ambassador to both the public and private spheres. Just during this campaign he has been received by prime ministers and presidents, CEOs and schools, as well as thousands of chess-lovers for whom Karpov is a living legend. Karpov knows every aspect of the chess environment, from the world championship to his dozens of school programs around the world. His experience as a UNICEF ambassador has expanded his resources and his knowledge of how to get things done in the real world.

Most importantly, Karpov knows how to assemble a winning team. He understands that being a great chessplayer does not mean he can run FIDE by himself. Professional managers are required to run a professional sport. The political patronage model has been a disaster. Karpov has been able to unite the past – his old rival Garry Kasparov is working with the campaign – and the future – world #1 Magnus Carlsen is an enthusiastic supporter. His campaign has attracted major corporate sponsors and a remarkable advisory board. As president of FIDE, Karpov will turn chess into a 21st century sport.

The outstanding quality of our ticket speaks for itself.

  • Richard A Conn Jr., Deputy President, USA. A veteran attorney with immense global experience and a wealth of contacts, Richard also speaks Russian and Spanish and is a chessplayer himself. He has traveled tens of thousands of miles during the campaign, making multiple tours of Latin America and Asia. Everyone we have met with has been impressed by his knowledge of the issues and his no-nonsense professionalism.
  • Viktor Kapustin, Treasurer, Ukraine. It is hard to imagine a more perfect Treasurer than someone with his combination of experience in finance, banking, and a passion for chess. The president of the Ukrainian federation and one of the most esteemed names in finance in the entire region, Viktor has helped design our ambitious plans for an economic transformation of FIDE and the federations.
  • Adb Hamid Majid, General Secretary, Malaysia. A true unifier, sometimes it seems like Hamid knows everybody – and that everyone likes and respects Hamid. He is a long-time organizer and official who has been active in Asian chess for decades. He was even an official at the Karpov-Timman candidates match in 1990!
  • Aguinaldo Jaime, Vice-President, Angola. Dr. Jaime brings a formidable combination of experience and reputation throughout Africa in chess and finance. He is a deputy to the Prime Minister of Angola and his tenure as the federation president there has seen fantastic progress.
  • Alisa Maric, Vice-President, Serbia. One of the most accomplished female players of the past 30 years, the IM and WGM also has organizing and fundraising experience. Her doctorate in marketing – she is a university professor in this discipline – will be very valuable in transforming FIDE.

A summary of the main elements of Karpov2010’s ambitious agenda

  • Turn FIDE into a professional and responsive organization that serves and supports the national federations. A successful FIDE means successful federations, period.
    • Place experienced professionals in positions to develop our programs.
    • Eliminate all fees paid by the federations to FIDE and replace that revenue with commercial sponsorship.
    • Enforce the fiscal transparency and ethical standards required to attract and maintain that sponsorship.
    • Maintain "one federation one vote" and create regional alliances for more effective cooperation between federations.
  • Launch a four-million-dollar global chess development and promotion program to ensure the next generation of players, coaches, arbiters, organizers, and officials. The money is there and it is real commercial sponsorship. The initial emphasis will be on the small and developing federations where the potential for growth – and the need for assistance – is greatest. An important aspect of this program will be instructing and aiding in the development of commercial relationships, media promotion, and the other skills required to develop sponsorship.
  • Use the internet to unite the federations and the entire chess community. Many federations have little or no internet presence. Almost none are significantly connected with others. FIDE must provide this as a standard service. Greater connectivity for federations and individuals in the chess community under the FIDE banner can provide many valuable services. It will also unite the chessplaying demographic and bond the chess brand FIDE can use to generate revenue.
  • Restore and defend the great chess traditions – while modernizing the sport. The world chess championship is a legendary institution. It should be promoted and protected, as should the game itself. Players must have the opportunity to create and the world champion must have the credibility that can only come from a rigorous cycle. At the same time, new opportunities such as professional online events and making chess an Olympic sport must be pursued.

Why not Ilyumzhinov? We are enthusiastic about our positive message of change. But negatives are unavoidable when challenging a 15-year incumbent with such a poor record. For chess to thrive, a major transformation is required and the Ilyumzhinov administration has shown no interest or ability in making the needed changes. Scholastic chess, internet activities and expansion, growth in the developing world, corporate sponsorship, major events in global capitals, mainstream popularity and branding, media outreach… FIDE has declined or been stagnant in every one of these key areas under Ilyumzhinov. Instead we have yet more promises. His experiments have failed and whatever resources he brought with him have evaporated.

There is no time to waste. Of the many difficulties facing FIDE and the federations today, perhaps the most alarming is the deal Ilyumzhinov and his allies have made with the mysterious company CNC. This deal will hand to CNC every commercial right imaginable, leaving FIDE with no way to generate sponsorship and brand revenue the way other professional sports associations do. Is there a conflict of interest? Does Ilyumzhinov or anyone on his team hold shares in CNC? This lack of transparency is fatal to proper commercial development. Without more information, it looks like FIDE and the federations are being robbed again, just as with Ilyumzhinov’s previous expensive failures, FIDE Commerce and Global Chess.

Ilyumzhinov’s personal reputation has become a serious liability, one that cannot be repaired. From cancelled events to a "toilet match", from aliens to a murder case – and now his latest fantasy about building a chess center near Ground Zero in New York, the public humiliations for chess continue. Just as he did when he took office in Kalmykia, Ilyumzhinov entered the chess world with big promises of money and modernization. His rule in Kalmykia is now over and FIDE must follow the same path. After 15 years it is time to thank him for his efforts and start afresh.

What the campaign has shown about the current administration

This campaign for the FIDE presidency has illustrated many of the complaints the federations have about the current administration. Disdain for the rule of law is a trademark that was exhibited early on, when Ilyumzhinov refused to acknowledge the public vote of the Russian Chess Federation endorsing Karpov. Ilyumzhinov still insists he has Russia’s support, despite being pressured out of his Kalmykian presidency and despite the fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry is now openly supporting Karpov by having consular officials call local federation heads.

Ilyumzhinov’s inappropriate use of FIDE resources in his campaign has made our task doubly difficult. Five federations were forced to bring a lawsuit in Lausanne to verify the validity of Ilyumzhinov’s nominations and those of at least one of his ticket members. Argentina has already withdrawn its nomination of Ilyumzhinov for president.

Ilyumzhinov’s reputation for wild statements and impossible promises was validated by his claims of federation support during the campaign. In order to appear stronger than it is, his campaign has repeatedly claimed the endorsements of federations without any evidence. Several have had to be retracted after protests. Due to threats from Ilyumzhinov and his agents in FIDE, many federations have asked us not to publicize their endorsement of Karpov, an unacceptable state of affairs.

Such intimidation is rampant, and the players are often the ones to suffer. To take one very recent example, consider Ilyumzhinov’s reaction to his ally Iturri being forcibly removed as the head of the Peruvian chess federation for improper standing. Just days ago Ilyumzhinov called the Peruvian Institute of Sport and demanded that they reinstate Iturri or he would prevent the Peruvian teams – already registered and preparing to travel – from participating in the Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk! Tragically, this blatant act of extortion is not atypical of how Ilyumzhinov’s campaign has operated this year and, as documented, in previous elections.

On to Khanty-Mansiysk and Victory!

The campaign is nearly over. The delegates and Olympiad players are heading to Khanty-Mansiysk. We hope the many changes in flights and other difficulties in the organization of the Olympiad do not disrupt this cherished event or the election. Unfortunately, we have already received news that some delegations have had to cancel their participation due to these complications.

We look forward to meeting everyone in Khanty-Mansiysk. We hope we can count on a smooth and honest election process despite the concerns raised by the above-mentioned conflicts. The chess world deserves a fair election to select its leadership. The federations deserve a chance to take back control of FIDE. We thank you for your attention and we hope you will join Anatoly Karpov in transforming FIDE into an organization worthy of our great game.

Contact Richard Conn Jr. to join the winning team!

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