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Chest mate!! Anger as sport agrees promotion deal with a breast enlargement company 


Chest mate!! Anger of female players as sport agrees promotion deal with a breast enlargement company

  • International Chess Federation (FIDE) under fire for Establishment Labs deal
  • It is a company that produces and markets breast implants under Motiva brand 
  • Many believe the new sponsorship deal will hamper female progress in the sport


After the success of The Queen’s Gambit, there were no doubt high hopes for The Year of Women in Chess in 2022.

But the International Chess Federation (FIDE) has instead found itself under fire from fans and female players after announcing a deal with a breast enlargement company to promote the game.

Its decision to partner with Establishment Labs, a company that produces and markets implants under the Motiva brand, prompted one anonymous player to write on the popular chess site Lichess: ‘Shouldn’t chess – a game reliant on brains rather than breasts – be distancing itself from that kind of reductive and misogynistic line of thinking?’

Sales of sets soared after the success of The Queen’s Gambit, the multi-award-winning Netflix drama which charted the rise of orphan prodigy Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy

Chess has only 39 female grandmasters out of a total of 1,300 and has strained to promote the game among women. 

Sales of sets soared after the success of The Queen’s Gambit, the multi-award-winning Netflix drama which charted the rise of orphan prodigy Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy.

But many believe the new sponsorship deal, set to run throughout next year, will hamper progress with one player describing the move on the chess.com website as ‘degrading and humiliating’.

The same website quoted grandmaster and former US women’s champion Jennifer Shahade as saying: ‘I think a breast augmentation company should not be a sponsor for a women’s chess event though there could be some positives if breast cancer awareness and reconstructive surgery is the focus.’

She added that while she would never criticise a woman who undergoes the procedure for non-medical reasons, ‘our culture is looks-obsessed . . . This can be even more extreme in chess since there are so few women and the male gaze becomes a male magnifying glass.’

FIDE said the deal, signed for an undisclosed sum, was the largest specifically for women in chess and had been discussed by the management board and the council.

Stressing the work that its sponsorship partner does in reconstructive surgery for women who have had breast cancer, FIDE’s managing director, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, said: ‘We value Establishment Labs’ commitment to women’s health and wellbeing. 

Many believe the new sponsorship deal, set to run throughout next year, will hamper progress with one player describing the move on the chess.com website as ‘degrading and humiliating’. Pictured, former US women's champion Jennifer Shahade

Many believe the new sponsorship deal, set to run throughout next year, will hamper progress with one player describing the move on the chess.com website as ‘degrading and humiliating’. Pictured, former US women’s champion Jennifer Shahade

The same website quoted grandmaster and former US women’s champion Jennifer Shahade as saying: ‘I think a breast augmentation company should not be a sponsor for a women’s chess event though there could be some positives if breast cancer awareness and reconstructive surgery is the focus’

The same website quoted grandmaster and former US women’s champion Jennifer Shahade as saying: ‘I think a breast augmentation company should not be a sponsor for a women’s chess event though there could be some positives if breast cancer awareness and reconstructive surgery is the focus’

‘The company supports expanded access to breast reconstruction and has been a pioneer in offering technologies that can improve the outcomes for these women. 

‘We are grateful for their sponsorship.’

But others accused FIDE of being disingenuous. 

One anonymous online poster said: ‘They are using the legitimate medical purpose of breast implants as a smokescreen to deflect from the questionable ethics of a company aggressively targeting the cosmetics market.’

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