Breast implant company’s sponsorship of women’s chess draws backlash
The International Chess Federation, the game’s governing body, is facing intense criticism from female chess players and others after it announced that a breast implant company would sponsor women’s chess events.
The federation, then known as FIDE, announced on September 27 that it had reached a “landmark partnership agreement” with Establishment Labs, a medical technology company that sells breast implants under the brand name Motiva. .
FIDE called the partnership “the first corporate sponsorship agreement specifically aimed at supporting women’s chess events” and said the sponsorship would continue until 2022, which the federation has designated as the Year of Women in Chess.
The announcement sparked immediate backlash among some players in the highest echelons of the sport, where women have long complained of unequal treatment and mistreatment.
Jennifer Shahade, a two-time US women’s chess champion and women’s program director at the US Chess Federation, said she does not believe the company should sponsor women’s events.
“It’s not that breast implants are obviously bad,” Ms Shahade said in an interview on Saturday. “This is just another example of the ways in which women’s appearance is often given more attention than their gait and mind.”
He added that the sponsorship also sparked a burst of interest in chess, particularly among women, following the success of “The Queen’s Gambit”, a Netflix series about a troubled chess prodigy named Beth Harmon who is male-dominated. Navigates the tournament world.
“We are in such a great moment for women and chess that we must focus on that inner beauty and intellectual bravery that are underrepresented in our culture,” said Ms Shahade, author of “Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual of Sport”. ” and “Play Like a Girl! Strategy by 9Queens,” which promotes the advancement of women in sport.
Announcing the partnership with Establishment Labs, FIDE Managing Director, Dana Reznis-Ozzola, emphasized the benefits of breast reconstruction for cancer survivors who undergo mastectomy.
“At FIDE, we value Establishment Labs’ commitment to the health and well-being of women,” Ms. Reznis-Ozzola said in the statement. “The company supports expanded access to breast reconstruction and has been a leader in offering techniques that can improve outcomes for these women.”
Establishment Labs said in a statement on Saturday that its sponsorship “highlights our core commitment to respect and promote women with confidence and independent minds who are fully in their decision-making without labeling, judging or humiliating.” are capable.”
“We are committed to changing the perception that women make decisions out of insecurity rather than empowerment and self-love, and are disappointed by any comment that suggests otherwise,” the company said.
The FIDE statement did not say how much the sponsorship was worth. The federation did not respond to requests for further comment on Saturday.
Debate about the partnership arose when the FIDE World Women’s Team Championships, the first event sponsored by Establishment Labs, was being held in Sitges, Spain.
Fiona Still-Antoine, a top chess layer from Luxembourg, told Chess.com that Motiva’s only promotional material that was distributed at the tournament discussed how to perform a breast self-exam.
“I didn’t see anything about breast implants/enlargement anywhere, nor do I plan to promote it within this sponsorship,” said Ms. Stills-Antoine, adding that she was “personally involved” in the partnership. .
Some prominent chess players said that sponsorship could help elevate women in chess, where they have long been underrepresented. As of last year, only 37 of the more than 1,700 regular Grandmasters around the world were women.
Nine-time British champion, Jovanka Hauska, told Chess.com that it “could be a very exciting sponsorship deal, but it depends on how FIDE promotes and frames it.”
“As many people have pointed out, breast reconstruction surgery is a very worthwhile cause,” Ms Hauska told the website. “I also want to emphasize that women should not be ridiculed/ridiculous for having breast augmentation surgery. I am saying this because there seems to be a somewhat overly critical tone on social media.”
Chess.com, which was covering the tournament in Spain and preparing to cover other women’s competitions, said on Saturday it “will not promote Motiva as a sponsor in our broadcasts of these events.”
“We recognize the importance of reconstructive surgery and supporting breast cancer survivors, and we also respect that elective plastic surgery is a personal and positive option for some,” Chess.com wrote. “However, as a company, Chess.com does not feel that this sponsorship association is positive for marketing promotion suitable for women’s chess or the wider Chess.com community.”
Beatriz Marinello, former president of the American Chess Federation and former vice president of FIDE and the first woman elected to both positions, said it was “extremely difficult” to find sponsors for the women’s events.
“We have not been given priority,” she said in an interview on Saturday.
While Ms Marinello said she was not personally offended by the partnership with Establishment Labs, “my only concern is targeting teens or girls who have no medical conditions and may decide to do so in order to look better.” Huh.”
“Women, we are constantly being bombarded by all the hype about how our bodies should be,” she said. “And it has nothing to do with chess.”
Sabina-Francesca Foiore, 2017 U.S. Women’s Chess Champion, cautioned against rushing to the decision.
“Whether we like it or not, chess is dominated by male players at its helm, thus I can relate to those who find this partnership the result of the ‘male gaze,'” she wrote in an email.
On the other hand, alcoholic beverage companies often sponsor sporting events “and that has never caused controversy,” she said.
“Therefore, as FIDE struggles to find sponsors for traditional events, perhaps we should look at how FIDE promotes the sponsor and what kind of message will be delivered through this partnership,” wrote Ms. Foyer . “From what I’ve been able to read so far, the message they want to convey seems positive.”
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