PtG Article 24.09.2010

Yemen sacks chess team for playing against Israel

Yemen’s national chess team was fired after the team competed against Israel at a chess tournament in Belarus this week.

The Yemeni Sports minister, Hamud Mohammed Ubad, took the decision after players ignored instructions to pull out if drawn against Israel, which is widely criticized in the Middle East for its policies towards the Palestinians.

"This was an individual action contrary to the policy of Yemen, which refuses any normalization with Israel," said Mr Ubad, adding that the players were on their way home from Minsk.

Political tensions have frequently spilled over into the sporting arena, despite appeals from sporting bodies to keep sport separate from politics.

Last year, Israel's chess federation protested to the Turkish organisers of a junior chess tournament who refused to play the Israeli national anthem for the Israeli victor, and Libya provoked controversy at the international chess championship in Tripoli in 2004 when it denied visas to Israeli competitors.SOURCE: The Independent