International Chess Federation has banned Grandmaster Ilya Smirin from commentary duties during the ongoing FIDE Women's Grand Prix in Kazakhstan for making sexing comments during the live broadcast of the tournament. The comments by the Israeli grandmaster were labelled as 'offensive' and 'totally unacceptable' by FIDE.
The comments were made during the ninth round of the Grand Prix as Smirin, an Israeli grandmaster of Belarusian descent was making his debut as an English-language commentator with WIM Fiona Steil-Antoni of Luxembourg.
The FIDE statement read: " During yesterday's Women's Grand Prix live broadcast, one of the announcers expressed some very embarrassing comments.
Although we have great respect for Grandmaster Ilya Smirin as a chess player, the views he expressed on air are completely unacceptable, and offensive, and do not represent any of the values that FIDE stands for.
Therefore, we unreservedly apologise to all those who were offended. Additionally, GM Smirin will not continue as a FIDE commentator with immediate effect."
During the live broadcast answering one of the viewer's questions about whether it's possible for one of the participants (WGM Zhu Jiner, on 5/9 with two rounds to go) to make a GM norm in this women-only event, Smirin asked: "She's a woman grandmaster or what? Why does she want to be like men's grandmasters in this case?" After laughing for a bit, Smirin asked: "It's possible basically to make a men's norm in a woman's tournament?"
Scoring a grandmaster norm has nothing to do with gender and it is only obtaining a certain performance in a tournament against strong opposition that must include a number of other grandmasters (of any gender).
During the 10th round, Steil-Antoni was joined by GM Pavel Tregubov, the husband of GM Alexandra Kosteniuk, who is playing in the event.