May 03, 2017

Director denies role in chess player's withdrawal over dress

The director of the National Scholastic Chess Championships 2017 tournament in Putrajaya has denied any involvement in an incident that led to the withdrawal of a 12-year-old player over her "seductive" dress.

Mr Sophian Yusof, who claimed he is receiving death threats following the incident, told a press conference yesterday he was never involved in the conversation with the girl and her mother that led to the player's withdrawal from the tournament, reported The Star.

"I am being slandered," he said of a Facebook post alleging that he had deemed the girl's knee-length dress improper.

The issue began when the girl's coach, Malaysian chess player Kaushal Khandhar, penned a Facebook post expressing his outrage at the organisers of the event for their alleged treatment of the girl over her attire, reported The New Straits Times.

Mr Kaushal wrote that the girl was informed that her dress was improper as the tournament was ongoing.

According to Mr Kaushal, the chief arbiter at the tournament, Mr Sophian, had deemed the dress "seductive" and a "temptation from a certain angle far, far away".

Mr Kaushal had shared a photo of the girl's outfit, which comprised a short-sleeved black and orange striped dress. The girl's mother, Ms 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.

Giving his version of events, Mr Sophian said an arbiter had noted the girl's dress on the tournament's first day and asked another arbiter for advice. The second arbiter then told an assistant, a woman, to speak to the girl and advise her accordingly.

Mr Sophian said while he was briefed on the issue at the end of the first day of the tournament, he did not pay much attention to it as there were many other issues that needed handling.

Mr Sophian broke down in tears at the press conference as he spoke about the hate mail he received since the post.

"I received abusive messages and threats on Facebook and via e-mail. People used terms like 'paedophile' and 'pervert'. I even looked for messages of support but there were none," he said.

Mr Sophian said his 11-year-old daughter, also a chess player, " has since become withdrawn and has refused to speak on the matter". He said his son has also been affected by the issue.

"Again, I wish to stress that I have never uttered such words and was not even there when the incident took place," he said.

The tournament director said that he had lodged a report with the police and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission over the initial Facebook post by the girl's coach, whom he claimed "spun" the story of what actually happened, reported The Star.


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