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Tromso Chess Olympiad 2014 (Russian Women's Team)

Russia state Olympiad exclusion of their women's team unlawful

The Russian Chess Federation (RCF) has set out their position that the exclusion of their women's team is unlawful. The Tromso Chess Organisers had set out their reasons for exclusion in a letter to FIDE published on the official website. The reason given was that Russia had failed to register their team list on June 1st according to FIDE regulation 3.71 (read full regulations). Their letter mentions the costs of allowing late registered teams to play and that seems to have been their motivation for taking the action. Russia state that the penalty missing the June 1st (two month) deadline carries at most a small fine as set out in 3.7.2. The difference in interpretation really comes down to how you view the word "must" in the regulation but there is no clear penalty mentioned. Russia further state that this deadline has proved unimportant in the past and hasn't resulted in exclusion.

The whole delay in submitting the women's team was due to problems in the transfer of Kateryna Lagno from the Ukraine to Russian team (unsurprisingly the Ukraine Chess Federation were not in the mood to be helpful in the transfer of their best player to a main rival and registered her for their team, her transfer was completed on 11th July with €20,000 being paid to the Ukraine chess federation as compensation. Interesting article on transferring Federations in other sports). After realising that the transfer would drag on Russians finally submitted an incomplete team on June 16th (they asked for permission to postpone submission on June 4th) a step I'm sure they wish they done before June 1st in retrospect. Below are the two documents they released on 18th July. More background in a chess24 article on the story :

The regulations in question:

3.7 Submission of team lists

3.7.1 Not later than two (PB '98) months before the start of the tournament, every Federation that has entered must notify the following details to the Administrator:

(a) name and initials of the Chief of Delegation;

(b) name and initials of the team captain;

(c) name of each team member (one first name in full, initials of additional first names, surname);

(d) FIDE rating of team members (according to the most recent FIDE rating list);

(e) any information required in connection with visas.

3.7.2 Late notification of team particulars shall be accepted up to 20 hours before the start of Round 1 (PB '98), but subject to a late submission fee of 100 euros per name.

You can also read the RCF's official legal letter to the organisers in PDF.

RCF President Andrey Filatov says that legal action is likely to establish a precedent "to prevent such situations from arising in the future"

UPDATE 21st July:

The Olympiad organisers whilst standing by their interpretation of the regulations say teams are "permitted to register their respective teams, as they would have been on June 1." Olympiad organisers statement in full.

Reaction of Russian Chess Federation via VG Sporten newspaper. In Norwegian..

"We are of course delighted that Tromso has taken this sensible decision", Mark Glukhovsky, Chairman of the Russian Chess Federation, told VG.

"We have a very good women's team and it was important for us that they could be allowed to participate."

VG - The Russian Chess Federation obtained advice from top lawyers on the case, and in a letter to Tromso in 2014 threatened to sue.

"Given the economic problems that Tromso has had, is it better that they use this money to arrange a nice Olympiad than to defend themselves in court, " says Glukhovsky.

VG - So now you are happy?

"We are of course very pleased that this has resolved itself."

VG: The nine countries that are now allowed to participate Russia (women's national team), Afghanistan, Gabon, Pakistan, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Oman.

Russian Press Release 18th July

Chess Olympiad without the Russian team?

A bid to deprive two-time Olympic champions of the right to defend their title

An unprecedented situation has arisen over participation by the Russian women's chess team in the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso (Norway, 1–15 August).

On 16 July 2014, the Organising Committee of the World Chess Olympiad published an open letter to FIDE Executive Director Nigel Freeman announcing that the Organising Committee had decided to prohibit participation by teams that had registered their participation after 1 June 2014. The decision directly affects the Russian women's chess team, winner of the last two Olympics. The team submitted its final application on 16 June 2014. If the decision of the Chess Olympiad Organising Committee remains unchanged, the Russian women's team will not be able to take part in the Chess Olympiad.

The Russian Chess Federation (RCF) considers the Organising Committee decision to be unlawful and will challenge it in court.

Background According to the Regulations for the Chess Olympiad published on the official website ( participants should be registered in two stages. Stage one: four months ahead of the Olympiad, the countries confirm their application to participate. The Russian Chess Federation (hereinafter RCF) confirmed participation by its men's and women's teams in a timely manner, i.e., before the deadline set by the Organising Committee, that is, before 1 April 2014 (clause 3.6.1). According to Clause 3.6.1 of the Regulations, teams that have not applied before that deadline are not allowed to take part in the Olympiad. Stage two: two months before the start of the Olympiad, the countries register the lineups of their teams. The Olympiad Organising Committee set the deadline of 1 June (clause 3.7.1). Under the regulations, failure to meet the deadline does not carry any sanctions other than a minor fine (clause 3.7.2).

Having set the application deadline for 1 June, only on 5 June 2014 did the Organising Committee publicly announce that the Olympiad would go ahead. Until that time, the Organising Committee representatives repeatedly expressed doubts in the press, claiming they had not received enough funds from the Norwegian Government.

The Russian men's team was registered before 1 June 2014 and was accredited shortly afterwards.

Registration of the women's team was complicated by the situation that arose because Ukrainian chess woman grandmaster Kateryna Lagno had transferred from the Ukrainian Chess Federation (UCF) to the Russian Chess Federation (RCF). In accordance with the FIDE rules on transfer of players, Kateryna Lagno applied to transfer to another federation on 6 March 2014. The three-month period for Lagno's transfer from the UCF to the RCF expired on 7 June on the condition that there were no written objections from the Ukrainian side. In this connection, on 4 June, the RCF asked the Olympiad Organising Committee of officially to extend the registration deadline, explaining that the delay was due to a valid reason: the RCF was waiting for Lagno's transfer to be completed and intended to register the team in its full lineup. The request went unanswered.

On 16 June, it became clear that the transfer of Lagno from the UCF to the RCF would drag on indefinitely, so the RCF registered its incomplete women's lineup in the system: Alexandra Kosteniuk, Natalia Pogonina, Valentina Gunina, Olga Girya and three coaches: Sergei Rublevsky, Alexander Ryazantsev and Evgeniy Najer. The late registration did not meet with any objections on the part of the Organising Committee. Moreover, on 7 July 2014, the Norwegian organisers sent an invoice to the RCF for participation in the Olympiad by both teams: the men's (5 players) and the women's (5 players). The invoice was paid by the RSF in a timely manner.

On 12 July, after the decision of the FIDE Presidential Council, Kateryna Lagno was transferred to the Russian rating list and was able to join the Olympic team. On that same day, on 12 July 2014, the RCF sent FIDE and the Organising Committee a letter with the final lineup of the Russian women's team including Kateryna Lagno. It should be noted that, under clause 3.7.2 of the Regulations for the Chess Olympiad, late notification of the team lineup is accepted by the Organising Committee up to 20 hours before the start of the tournament (i.e., effectively until 31 July 2014) and is punishable by a fine of 100 euros per person.

Even so, the question of the final accreditation of the Russian women's team remained open until 16 July. In their private correspondence, FIDE and the Norwegian organisers referred to the Organising Committee meeting on 16 July, which was to give final confirmation of participation by the Russian women's team. The RCF position on the issue remains unchanged: FIDE is the main body responsible for holding the Chess Olympiad. In addressing the President of FIDE the RCF proceeded in accordance with clause 6.1 of the Regulations for the Chess Olympiad, whereby the President of FIDE has the deciding vote in all the disputes concerning the Olympiad in general.

The RCF considers the Organising Committee decision published on 16 July on the official website of the Olympiad to be unlawful. It is illegitimate because the Regulations do not stipulate any sanctions for breach of clause 3.7.1 (registration before 1 June). It is also illegitimate because it ignores the position of FIDE expressed by its Vice President Mr Israel Gelfer (to allow the teams registered after 1 June 2014 to participate). It is important to add that the history of World Chess Olympiads (held since 1924) has seen many precedents of late registration by teams and not a single precedent of a team being banned from the Olympiad.

The RCF will uphold the right of the Russian women's team to take part in the World Chess Olympiad in Tromso by all legitimate means, including an appeal to the Sports Arbitration Court in Lausanne and the courts of Norway and Switzerland.

P.S. Quinn Emanuel law firm will represent the interests of the Russian Chess Federation.

American law firm  Quinn Emanuel  will represent the interests of the Russian Chess Federation in connection with the excluding of the Russian women's national team from participation in the Olympiad in Tromsø. Quinn Emanuel is the world's biggest law firm dealing with court and arbitration proceedings. Company lawyers have already worked with 2 300 disputes and have won 88.4% of disputes. Quinn Emanuel specialists have already examined the Olympiad Organizing Committee decision and are ready to maintain the Russian Chess Federation's  position that implies the decision is illegitimate.

Andrey Filatov statement

President of the Russian Chess Federation Andrey Filatov:

I appreciate the position of FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on the issue of banning national teams from taking part in the Olympiad in Norway. I consider it to be a fair, honest and sportsmanlike decision. Nevertheless, the Russian Chess Federation intends to pursue a legal investigation into the illegitimate actions of the Organising Committee of the World Chess Olympiad. All the materials relevant to this case were handed over to a legal company yesterday. Our interests in the litigation are represented by the American Quinn Emanuel, a leading international company specialising in court and arbitration procedures. I am confident of the unequivocal outcome of the legal proceedings and deem it necessary to set up a precedent to prevent such situations from arising in the future. Chess players of any national team must feel secure, and chess officials must act in strict accordance with the law and refrain from arbitrary actions.

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