Iran is the perfect example of how political and religious extremism can ruin sporting success.
The 25-year-old Iranian Sarasadat Jademalsharieh has been one of the most promising chess players in the world since 2012, but she will reside in Spain after the Rapid Games World Cup in Almaty (Kazakhstan) because she plays without a veil, for which she could suffer serious reprisals. of the Iranian regime, which interprets the gesture of uncovering the hair as a demonstration of support for the protests that have shaken Iran in the last three months.
Three years ago, Alireza Firouzja, 16 years old then, now 4th in the world, escaped to France, fed up with being forced to lose by default against Israeli rivals.
Imam Khomeini banned chess after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but he rectified it shortly before he died, and today Iran is a power,
Jademalsharieh (Khademalsharieh on the official list) already had problems with his country's government when he publicly supported Firouzja's decision in a video and announced that there would be more similar cases if his government's order to refuse to play with Israelis was not changed. .
Married to popular Iranian film director Ardeshir Ahmadi, and the mother of a boy since February, she is now well aware that her safety is at risk if she returns to Iran because she has appeared playing uncovered in several photos.
For this reason, the three will live in a Spanish city —whose name she does not want to divulge for security reasons— after the World Cup in Kazakhstan, two sources close to the player have confirmed to EL PAÍS.
And most likely, she will not play for Iran again, "although you never know," they added.
The Iranian chess player and her family own an apartment in Spain, the sources specified, who do not know if the athlete has already obtained a Spanish residence permit thanks to this property and also if she has requested or intends to request political asylum.
According to the so-called residence visa for investors and entrepreneurs —also known as the
, a non-EU foreigner who buys a real estate property whose value exceeds 500,000 euros will automatically obtain legal residence in Spain.
The chess champion's husband also has a Canadian passport.
The boycott of Israel by Iran and other Muslim countries (not all) includes the World Championships for ages from sub 8 to sub 20. The author of this chronicle asked Iranian delegates and coaches several times in those tournaments what was the point of applying that rule to the kids;
especially when —it happened in several cases— the Iranian boys were playing soccer with the Israelis in the morning.
The answer was always similar to this: “Personally, I have no problem with my boys living with the Israelis.
But, as sports manager, if I allow them to play this afternoon against an Israeli with the Iranian flag, the consequences will be very serious."
Most Islamic countries do not recognize the existence of the Israeli state.
The height of absurdity was reached three years ago at the Sunway Sitges (Barcelona) chess festival.
The two best Iranian players after Firouzja's defection, Parham Maghsoodloo and Amin Tabatabaei, then 19 and 18 years old, respectively, faced (and won) during a nightly blitz tournament (five minutes per player) the Israeli Ido Gorshtein, of 17. The Iranian government flew into a rage and questioned Maghsoodloo and Tabatabaei thoroughly, who claimed that they did not know that Gorshtein was Israeli.
Under normal conditions, nobody would believe that, but it turned out that in this specific case it was plausible: for the first time in six years, and due to problems with a printer, the referees decided to play without flags to gain time.
Atousa Pourkashiyán, an Iranian nationalized American, poses for a photo during the World Rapid Championship in Almaty (Kazakhstan). Lennart Ootes
Jademalsharieh is not the only Iranian player photographed unveiled in Kazakhstan.
She has also allowed it Atousa Pourkashiyán, who lives in the US (and plays with her flag), and is the sentimental partner of the American Hikaru Nakamura, 5th in the world, after having been 2nd in the Iranian female ranking for many years.
In February 2017, another of the best Iranian players, Dorsa Berajshani, did not return to her country after playing without a veil at the Gibraltar Open, where Jademalsharieh and Pourkashiyán put it on in the tournament room but took it off as soon as there were no photographers. near.
Chess was banned in Iran by Imam Khomeini, who defined it as "a diabolic game that disturbs the minds of those who play it", because in the Middle Ages it was a game of chance (played with dice) and betting (betting). ), and both are strictly prohibited by the Koran, although some moderate Muslim countries allow them with conditions.
However, some Iranian intellectuals convinced him that he was wrong to ban it, since it is a war game, and stopped being gambling centuries ago.
Khomeini lifted the ban shortly before his death in 1989. Since then, the Iranian government has greatly promoted chess, to the point that Iran is today one of the great powers in Asia, after China and India.
It is very common for their players to win medals, especially in the Asian Championships, but it is not uncommon for them to star in events such as those reported in this chronicle.
More serious is what happened recently with Elnaz Rekabi, one of the best climbers in the world.
In October she competed without a headscarf at the World Cup in South Korea shortly after the death in police custody on September 16 of Mahsa Amini, arrested three days earlier for not wearing the hijab correctly.
Rekabi returned to Iran.
Three weeks ago, her house was demolished, according to Iranian media in exile.
The International Olympic Committee has decided to try to protect her from her, by inviting her to a course in the UK next February.
the weekly newsletter 'Maravillosa jugada',
by Leontxo García
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