‘I WAS NOT EVEN THERE’
Chess tournament director: I never implied player’s outfit was seductive
ACHESS tournament director, who was roundly criticised on social media for allegedly labelling a 12-year-old female competitor ’s dress as “seductive”, has hit back at his detractors.
Sophian A. Yusuf, who was the tournament director of the National Scholastic Chess Championships 2017, said the allegations made against him were slanderous, as he had never even met the girl in question.
Sophian, who is with the Malaysian Chess Federation (MCF), was subjected to a torrent of abuse on social media, after it was claimed that he was the reason behind the girl’s withdrawal from the tournament, held in Putrajaya last month.
The issue began when the girl’s coach, Malaysian chess player Kaushal Khandhar, penned a Facebook post expressing his outrage at the event organisers for their alleged treatment of the girl over her attire, which was deemed “seductive” and a “temptation from a certain angle far, far away”.
Kaushal had shared a photo of the girl’s outfit, which comprised a short sleeved black and orange striped dress.
Kaushal is seeking a public apology from the tournament director for leading the girl, who felt “harassed and humiliated”, to pulling out from the tournament.
Netizens had since shared a photo of Sophian, and labelled him a “pervert” and “paedophile” over the claims.
Breaking his silence yesterday, Sophian refuted the claims. He said he had never met the girl, nor did he ever imply that the girl’s dress was “seductive”.
“It isn’t true. I was not even there (at the location where she was playing) when this allegedly happened. I have never even seen this girl, nor did I see her outfit at the time,” he said, adding that he only saw the dress when the tournament photographer showed it to him after the controversy broke.
Explaining the sequence of events, Sophian said an arbiter had noted the girl’s dressing 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.
“However, the advice was ignored,” he said.
He said the girl submitted her withdrawal letter from the tournament the next day. Hours after the girl withdrew, he received a phone call from the girl’s mother, but did not answer it as he was moderating the event.
Sophian said, since the controversy broke, he had been on the receiving end of abuse from social media users.
He broke down as he spoke about the hate mail he received.
“I received abusive messages and threats on Facebook and via email. People used terms like ‘paedophile’ and ‘pervert’. I looked for messages of support, but there were none,” he said.
He said he has an 11-year-old daughter, also a chess player. The criticism, he said, had hurt him and affected his family.
“My daughter is aware of the accusations against me. She has since become withdrawn and has refused to speak on the matter.”
However, Sophian said he bore no ill-will to the girl over the incident.
“I wish her all the best and success in everything she does and in her life.”
Sophian said he had lodged a report on the matter with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) over the allegations on social media.
He has also lodged a police report on the incident last week. He said the MCF committee would hold a discussion on the case and decide on the next course of action.
He has engaged a lawyer and is mulling legal action.