Turkish Chess Federation removes pregnant player from national team, denies sexism accusations

Turkish Chess Federation responded to sexism accusations after International Grandmaster Kübra Öztürk Örenli on Oct. 19 announced she was removed from the national team “due to pregnancy.” The Federation called the incident a “misunderstanding.”

Duvar English

Kübra Öztürk Örenli, Turkey’s first woman international Master and Grandmaster and member of the national chess team, on Oct. 19 announced through her social media that the Turkish Chess Federation cut her off from the national team due to her pregnancy. The Federation responded that the incident was a misunderstanding, the daily Evrensel reported on Oct. 23.

The Chess Federation of Turkey issued a statement responding to the player’s accusation. The federation stated that the decision was based on Öztürk previously opting out of certain championships, and they are willing to rediscuss the situation with Öztürk if “our player was emotionally offended or misunderstood for whatever reason.” 

The Federation added that it has six women executives including the president, and has a majority women workforce. “Treating a player with a 24-year-long career, an exemplary for girls and women players everywhere would be unimaginable,” the statement read. 

Öztürk told Evrensel that after her pregnancy became public, she learned that her national team stipend was cut off a midnight. She said, “I found [my dismissal] weird because I had recently returned from a tournament in Azerbaijan with success.”  

When Öztürk expressed her willingness to the Federation president to participate in the European Women’s Championship she heard back, “How will you go in your condition, you are pregnant. How will you play with two babies?” 

Öztürk stated that she was disturbed that the Federation president, a woman herself, took the decision without consulting her. The player called the decision “sexist,” and said that women everywhere were discriminated against due to their pregnancy.