Chess tournament director: I wasn't there during dress discussion

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 02 May 2017

GOMBAK: The director of the National Scholastic Chess Championships 2017 said he was not at the scene when the discussion about the "improper" dressing of a 12-year-old player took place. 

Sophian A. Yusof (pic), who is also the Malaysian Chess Federation assistant secretary, said  he was only informed of the situation by the arbiters during their nightly reports.

Sophian said according to the report he received, four arbiters - including one chief arbiter and a female assistant arbiter - held a discussion among themselves and agreed that the girl's dress was too short when she was in a seated position.

Sophian said they first noticed that her dress was unsuitable for the competition during the first round of the game.

He added that a female assistant arbiter was instructed to advise the girl to change into a more appropriate outfit for the next round after the game ended at about 7pm.

He said his team took great care in consulting a Chinese arbiter and a female arbiter to ensure no sensitivities were offended.

Sophian said that the chief arbiter then intervened and approached the girl when she remained in the same outfit for round two.

"The arbiter's report stops here and I was not there during the conversation between the chief arbiters, player and the mother," said Sophian at a press conference here on Tuesday.

He said he was surprised to learn that the girl had withdrawn from the tournament with a signed letter of withdrawal.

He said that the arbiters provided many opportunities for the girl to go home and change.

"I also have learned that at no time was she threatened by anyone with disciplinary actions like disqualification," said Sophian.

However, Sophian was unable to answer why he was named as the perpetrator if he was never involved in the decision-making process in the incident.

"Any accusations and allegations linking me to the player are false," he said, adding that he did not see the player in person until the photo of the girl was posted on social media.

He added that he does not bear any ill-feeling towards the girl.

"I wish her all the best and hope that she is successful in everything she does throughout her life and chess career," said Sophian.

He said that he is currently waiting for the chief arbiter to provide a full story of the conversation that ensued with the mother and player.

The chief arbiter, who is a "class A international arbiter", is currently attending a chess seminar overseas.

It was previously reported that the tournament organiser disputed the girl's complaint.

Pictures of Sophian along with a message calling for his resignation as the Malaysian Chess Federation assistant secretary have gone viral on messaging apps.

The same picture has also received more than 2,000 shares on Facebook along with angry remarks against Sophian in the comment sections.

Netizens have also tracked down his Facebook page and flooded it with criticism.

Sophian said that he had lodged a report with the police and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over the initial Facebook post by the girl's coach, whom he claimed "spun" the story of what actually happened.

It was reported that during the tournament in Putrajaya on April 14, the girl was told mid-game by the chief arbiter that her short-sleeved knee-length dress was "improper" and she would not allowed to wear a similar dress for the next round.

The girl's mother, Chin Wai Ling, said the director's pronouncement was only made around 10pm when shops were closing, so she did not have time to buy slacks for the following day's 9am start time.

Feeling harassed and humiliated, the girl, who is the Kuala Lumpur district chess champion, withdrew from the tournament.

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