First off, don't get me wrong. I fully understand and back FIDE's removal of competitions from Russia and Belarus. When one country is invading a neighbour the last thing you want to do is hold a tournament there. I also get the banning of official teams from Russia and Belarus. What I find more problematic is the boycott of all individual players with RUS and BLR federation memberships.

This individual boycott has been taken up enthusiastically by federations. Here is what the European Chess Union say on their official website:

  • Individual players representing Russian or Belarusian federations shall be excluded from all ECU competitions unless they change federation or by their expressed will represent the FIDE flag in rating list*

  • No trainer, arbiter or official from Russia or Belarus will perform any duty during the forthcoming European Chess Championships or in any subsequent ECU events

*official application to FIDE: [email protected]

So, individual chess players must officially transfer either to another federation or to FID else they are banned. For trainers and arbiters they are just banned. No mention of a possibility to change federation for them.

As this thread on the English Chess forum makes clear this also applies to children in England wanting to play ECF events.

Meanwhile I remember when the FIDE website had warm fuzzy words about "gens una sumus" and being against boycotts. I think that was on their "Ethics" page but I can't find it any more. That seems to have changed.

Nevertheless, FIDE was against boycotts as recently as December 2020. I did find this paper, Resolutions for the 2020 FIDE General Assembly, which amongst other things said this:


Congress notes: The continuing boycotts by Iranians of Israeli players in chess and other sports, most recently at the World Junior 2019 when GM Mohammad Amin Tabatabei and IM Aryan Gholami refused to play.

Congress notes: The resolution of the ECU passed unanimously at The ECU General Assembly, meeting in Skopje on March 23rd, 2019 requesting of the FIDE Presidential Board:

  • A statement that such individual boycotts will no longer be tolerated.
  • A resolution from the Board banning the practice of ‘special pairings’ at the Chess Olympiads, FIDE tournaments and in all FIDE rated events. This refers to the practice of deliberately keeping players or teams from certain countries apart by adjusting the pairing software.
  • If required, to take such steps at the next General Assembly to ensure the two points above are on the agenda for the next FIDE GA.

... Congress requests: The Iranian Chess Federation to ensure no future boycotts.

Congress requests: The Iranian Chess Federation to instruct its players to compete against all nations in FIDE.

Two years ago it wasn't all right for Iran to boycott individual Israeli chess players, including children, but now it's not just OK but required to boycott all Russian and Belarus players, including children?

I also don't understand why Russian invasion of Ukraine is wrong at the same time as the Uyghur genocide is OK. Both seem despicable to me. But that would be a separate question. Being cynical I suppose that has something to do with the central role Russia and Ukraine have played in world chess over the last hundred years. It's harder to brush under the carpet.

  • I suppose there is a difference between the worldwide boycott decided by FIDE (of flags rather than players, which ressembles IOC's recent decisions in case of organized doping) and individual boycotts than would be endorced by one or few federations (e.g. Iran) or players.
    – Evargalo
    Commented Mar 17, 2022 at 14:55
  • 1
    Being even more cynical, I believe that it is all about money. Today it will be extremely hard to find a sponsor for the tournament featuring the Russian flag.
    – user58697
    Commented Mar 19, 2022 at 0:19
  • Any boycott that not directly and significantly punishes the economy of Russia is pathetic in my opinion. It doesn't get beyond the level a middle schoolers. If FIDE did this because of sponsors threatening to withdraw then at the very least they should have stated that in which case it would be the sponsors being childish.
    – Carlo Wood
    Commented Mar 27, 2022 at 11:50

1 Answer 1


Media coverage, and an increase in boycotts around the world are the underlying cause. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States took action and many Americans refused to even drink Russian Vodka. It’s a shame that the Uyghur genocide didn’t receive much attention, but the fact is that boycotts are trendy right now and Fide is an organization like any other company. Fide is not against or for boycotts, they are only for making money, and shielding their public image.

Back in 2020 there was a negative attitude towards similar boycotts. The general feeling was that it’s a game and it shouldn’t involve politics. The seriousness of the Russia situation (nukes) sort of made people forget their sportsmanship.

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