Chess commentator Ilya Smirin sacked for making sexist comments on-air during FIDE Women's Grand Prix

On-air, Ilya Smirin made vile comments against women, saying: “Chess is not for women”.

FP Sports September 29, 2022 02:28:22 IST
Chess commentator Ilya Smirin sacked for making sexist comments on-air during FIDE Women's Grand Prix

Representational image. Reuters

Ilya Smirin, a chess commentator, was sacked by the International Chess Federation for making sexist comments, the BBC reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, Smirin was broadcasting LIVE during the ninth round of the FIDE Women’s Grand Prix in Astana on Tuesday.  Smirin is a Belarusian-born Israeli Grandmaster, who has also featured once in the world’s 20 players. Smirin was making his debut as an English-language commentator, along with Fiona Steil-Antoni, a Woman International Master (WIM).

On-air, Smirin made vile comments against women, saying: “Chess is not for women”.

However, the story does not end there. Smirin continued, saying: “Why women can play against men and men cannot play against women”.

Smirin further went onto say: “why a woman would want to get a men’s GM title.”

FIDE, the International Chess Federation, termed Smirin’s comments ‘very embarrassing while also apologising ‘unreservedly’.

“Although we have great respect for Grandmaster Ilya Smirin as a chess player, the views he expressed on air are completely unacceptable, offensive, and do not represent any of the values that FIDE stands for,” it said in a statement, adding “Mr Smirin will not continue as a FIDE commentator with immediate effect.”

Smirin, however, was quoted as saying by the BBC that he was ‘slightly puzzled, since “did not say anything really bad, did not want to insult or hurt anyone”.

“But what I said during the broadcasts was perhaps slightly impolite but nothing more,” Smirin said.

“And most of it clearly was a joke. If we will continue like that, the very words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ risk to disappear rather soon. I want to stress that I did not want to hurt anyone, I love and respect chess and women. And I do not like hypocrisy,” Smirin added.

While Smirin said he had understood the decision to suspend his commentary duties, he added that ‘common sense will prevail’.

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