Sudan Chess Group's Chief Resigns After a Sudanese Plays an Israeli

Sudanese player defied group's demand that he compete against someone else or withdraw.

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Israel's Matan Poleg (left) and Sudan's Omar Eltigani at World Youth Chess Championships, September 2014
Israel's Matan Poleg (left) and Sudan's Omar Eltigani at World Youth Chess Championships, September 2014Credit: Alex Poleg

The Sudanese Chess Association's president resigned, and apologized to the Sudanese and Palestinian peoples, because a Sudanese played a game against an Israeli, a Sudanese media report says.

Tariq Zaroog stepped down from his position on Sunday after a controversy erupted in the Sudan media when the country's Omar Albargdar Eltigani played Israel's Matan Poleg, the Sudan Tribune reported.

The two competed on September 25 at the World Youth Chess Championships in Durban, South Africa. Poleg won the match after the 45th move, reported.

The paper said Sudan's players and athletes refuse to compete against Israelis because the country does not recognize Israel and will not normalize relations unless Israel withdraws from what the Sudan paper called "Arab occupied lands."

When Eltigani was paired against Poleg, the Sudanese chess group insisted that he either play someone else or withdraw from the match, the paper reported. But Eltigani played anyway. The Sudan paper reported that Eltigani said that friends pressured him to play the match.

The Sudan Tribune article did not mention the Israeli, Poleg, by name, referring to him only as an "Israeli player."

Poleg is a member of the Netanya Chess Club. Nick Kopaloff, co-director of the club and head of the six-member Israeli delegation that attended the youth chess championship in Durban, told Haaretz of a similar incident in the under-10 group at the tournament, which took place September 20 through 29.

An Israeli Arab girl was paired against an Algerian girl and the Algerian girl was not allowed to play the match, he said. The girls, who conversed in Arabic, were each awarded a point even though the match wasn't played, he said.  

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