Former FIDE General Secretary CM Enyonam Sewa Fumey from Togo join the presidential race for the 2022 elections of the international chess federation. The elections are going take place in Chennai, India on August 7 during this year’s FIDE General Assembly.
Fumey’s candidacy is based on two simple premises: to distance the organization from Russian influence in response to the brutal invasion of Ukraine and to foster a local approach to chess development.
Can a Russian run FIDE?
Incumbent President Arkady Dvorkovich is considered by many to be an enlightened leader and he has openly condemned the war. However, his past as Deputy Prime Minister of Russia has come under criticism, with the Ukrainian Chess Federation accusing him of duplicating the Kremlin following the invasion.
Fumey’s mission statement talks about developing “a more sensible approach to the issue of sports and politics”. In other words, to avoid the body’s dependence on world politics.
Chess.com asked him if this was a direct reference to the conflict in Ukraine.
“We do not see [this] in terms of blocks,” Fumey explained in a videoconference interview, joined by Vice President FM Stuart Fantasya resident of Papua New Guinea.
“We just realize that right now we can say that FIDE is too Russian, which makes any Russian problem, FIDE’s problem,” Fumey said. He explained his choice to compete against Dvorkovich, a decision that may appear to be a timely political decision, noting that his disdain for a polarized approach to world chess dates back to 2018, when he first took office. . The former secretary general of FIDE, also a member of the social commission, observes that FIDE remains “too focused on a [direction]. I kept winning on this issue, and now I’m right because Russia is in trouble and FIDE is in danger.”
…at the moment we can say that FIDE is too Russian, which makes any Russian problem FIDE’s problem.
Fumey went on to say that he can’t imagine Dvorkovich being re-elected: “IIt is clear that FIDE is hurt by the fact that he is the first leader, not because of him, but because of the situation. So I can’t imagine with this situation that he will be re-elected.”
“Maybe Mr. President did well, but being Russian is still a problem for him. It’s not his fault for being Russian.” So you’re saying his mere presence will scare off the sponsors? “Yes. Right now”
A global organization
For many developing federations, the prospect of an African president represents a beacon of hope for the development of the game outside of traditional chess playing countries and a new approach to global funding. Africa alone has 47 federations (and as many votes) out of the 201 member federations of FIDE.
In richer countries, however, choosing a president from a developing country may seem like a leap into obscurity.
“It’s not a revolution,” Fumey said. “We are coming in a very collaborative spirit. Yes, we have too many Russians. Yes, we have too many Europeans. Okay, let’s add a few from Oceania, some from America, to balance the everything to make it more of an organism world.”
It’s not a revolution. We come in a very collaborative spirit.
But how would that affect top tournaments and hard-earned sponsorship deals?
Fumey does not foresee drastic changes, especially since “there are not many countries that have the resources to host a world-class event”. And yet, he has the feeling: “We can do better together. We don’t oppose you, but we bring you ideas. We also have something to offer, we can collaborate and we can also do things. So let’s do it together. “
Fumey admitted that Dvorkovich had managed to attract other sponsors instead of just focusing on Russian government money, but added: “But still, being Russian is a problem for him. It’s not about his fault for being Russian.”
Further on the matter, Fancy mentioned that the French multinational Total was currently involved in a gas project in Papua New Guinea. “We deal with them on a day-to-day basis. And they were very impressed that Papua New Guinea had a chess federation… But, of course, for some of these big multinationals, having a Russian president is a bit of a challenge. problem. , you know.”
A basic approach
As a player, international arbiter and former president of the Togolese Chess Federation, Fumey believes the biggest obstacle to FIDE’s growth is its top-down methodology. According to him, the current leaders “do not share the same spirit of development” and “do not understand what poverty is”. He believes he can change that:
“I’m nobody, so I tend to understand better how to help people, how to support them in their actions, because just throwing money at people, and coming back later to hold them accountable… It doesn’t work that way.
Just throwing money at people, and coming back later to make them account… It doesn’t work that way.
Concretely, Fumey promised to fight corruption with cooperative governance and “gentle hierarchy”. At least four African federations, over the past 10 years, have encountered serious leadership disputes and involved the FIDE Constitutional Commission in endless court battles.
The Togolese arbiter aims to develop social projects promoting equal opportunities for players and all other chess-related professions. He says that in the top circuit “they never invite referees from Africa, referees from Asia. No, we should mix things up.”
Once elected, would he feel responsible for not disappointing the dream of an African chess renaissance? “The [federations] also have a huge responsibility,” Fumey replied to this question, “because many of them could take opportunities to stand up and they just squandered them.”
And how would the countries of the first world benefit from his leadership? “Why should Italy vote for us? Because Italy loves chess. If Italy wants us to be global and not feel alone in a bubble… I think all players of these federations want chess to be everywhere.”
Fumey believes that change can happen and that the time has come: “From what I feel, the world is reborn… People have discovered the importance of social relationships, of the value of life, because that we have been through a difficult period We now see the end of the tunnel. And I think everything is positive, and we’re going to restart and in a better way.”
Can he be the engine of this change? “In FIDE, yes,” he concluded.
Corrections: This article incorrectly stated that Mr. Fumey is vice-president and that Mr. Fancy is a candidate for vice-president. Mr. Fumey is a former secretary general and Mr. Fancy is a candidate for the position of vice-president.