Sudanese chess chief resigns over Israel scandal

Tariq Zaroog comes under fire from religious officials after country’s top player competes against Israeli opponent

An illustrative photo of a chess board (photo credit:  Martin Lopatka/Flickr/CC BY-SA)
An illustrative photo of a chess board (photo credit: Martin Lopatka/Flickr/CC BY-SA)

The head of the Sudanese Chess Association has resigned amid heavy criticism after the country’s top-ranked player faced off against an Israeli opponent.

Tariq Zaroog handed in his resignation last Sunday and apologized to the Palestinian and Sudanese people, according to the Sudanese Tribune, which reported that Omar Albargdar Eltigani went ahead with the September 25 match against Israel’s Matan Poleg in South Africa, despite instructions from the SCA to pull out unless the tournament changed the pairing.

Poleg eventually won the match and a top Sudanese religious official issued a scathing rebuke of the Sudanese government for not stopping Eltigani from playing, asserting that Sudan is in a state of war with the Jews and has a policy of not recognizing “the Zionist entity.” He said that competing against an Israeli player is tantamount to recognizing Israel and gives it legitimacy, according to Sudanese news site Al Nilin.

Many Islamic countries have a policy of not allowing their players and teams to compete against Israel in international competition, often forcing them to forfeit or withdraw instead.

In October 2013, Tunisia’s tennis federation ordered the country’s top player to withdraw from a match against an Israeli at a tournament in Uzbekistan. Tunisia was later suspended from the Davis Cup for a year due to the incident.

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