The Italian Embassy apologizes to the chess team

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The Deputy Head of Mission of the Italian Embassy in Dhaka, Mattia Ventura, verbally expressed his regrets to the Head of Delegation of the Bangladesh Chess Team, Mahmuda Hoque Chowdhury, for the problem of visa refusal and the misbehavior of an embassy official in calling the chess team ‘refugees’.

Bangladesh’s nine-member squad included seven players – five women and two men – a two-man goalkeeper and Mahmuda herself – set to compete in the FIDE Junior (U-20) World Chess Championship 2022 in Sardinia, Italy from October 11 to 23.

But they missed the chance as the Italian Embassy in Dhaka on October 4 refused to issue visas, citing fears that the team members would not return home.

‘You refugees don’t come back [home] from this country [Italy] after going there,’ an Italian embassy official who did not explore her identity told Mahmuda when she spoke to New Age on Oct. 7.

Later, the Bangladesh Chess Federation filed a complaint with the world chess governing body, FIDE, and the Italian Chess Federation.

Responding to a call, Mahmuda went to the Italian Embassy on Tuesday when Ventura issued a verbal apology and asked for 72 hours to issue the visas.

The head of the chess federation, Mahmuda, had no choice but to refuse the request because the visas would not come into effect, as competition in Italy had already started.

“They called me to come to the embassy on Tuesday afternoon. And the deputy head of the mission said he was really sorry and apologized for that, and gave us 72 hours time and the opportunity to issue all the visas,’ Mahmuda told New Age on Wednesday.

“But I couldn’t respect his request… It’s not possible, because the competition has already started, I replied,” Mahmuda said.

The BCF organizers are now demanding an “unconditional apology” and are taking the initiative, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to challenge the Italian ambassador on the issue, a informed the general secretary of the federation, Syed Shahabuddin Shamim.

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