Other than the fact that both are regarded as a type of sport, there would seem to be no common denominator between chess and volley-ball.
Volley-ball entails physical effort, on a large court, usually out-doors and requires a ball. Chess entails extreme mental effort, on a small board, usually in-doors and does not require a ball.
But there is a common factor – the issue of the status of women in Iran and the legitimacy endowed to gender discrimination in Iran by conducting international tournaments in Iran.
We recall the campaign, run in twitter and other new-media venues, initiated by women protesting the discrimination against women in Iran, calling for free access to stadiums in Iran. The thrust was against Iran but also challenged the International Volley-ball Federation, FIVB, for allowing international tournaments to take place in Iran. The NY Times, in its editorial Iranian women should not face arrest and threats for watching volleyball rightfully pointed out FIVB’s failure and shameful attitude. When FIVB’s guarantee that women would be allowed access to the Kish island tournament was blatantly violated, and described well as “Iran Kish Island Open closed to women” by Human Rights Watch, FIVB responded pitifully by attributing this to a “misunderstanding” and then disgracefully defending a “carrot over stick approach” towards Iran – as reported in insidethegames, as if they are politicians signing a nuclear agreement with Iran. Their task was to ensure free access, and they failed. They should have known better not to rely on Iran’s promises. We cannot forget that for Iranians this is not a theoretical issue. The arrest and custody of Ms. Ghoncheh_Ghavami and her confirmation as a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International attest to this.
The chess federation, FIDE, is now faced with the same challenge.
Since the bold statements and steps taken by US chess star Nazi Paikidze, stating “I will not wear a Hijab“, refusing to participate in the planned chess tournament in Iran and launching a campaign at change.org, the movement against holding international chess tournaments in Iran is growing. The issue is more fundamental than pro or anti Hijab. As Nazi was quoted: “I think it’s unacceptable to host a women’s World Championship in a place where women do not have basic fundamental rights and are treated as second-class citizens”.
Unfortunately, FIDE has so far responded weakly and pathetically, as reported at ME-online. The media hit it right this time, as phrased by the British Telegraph: “the west should learn from its chess players’ refusal to pander to Iran.”
This is the opportunity for chess to beat volley-ball in forcefulness.