"It’s official! Richard Rapport will play for Romania 🇷🇴 starting today! Welcome to our team!" That is how the Romanian Chess Federation has announced the top Hungarian chess player, Richárd Rapport changing nationality and playing for Romania in the future.
Regarding the background of the case, the popular Hungarian news site, telex.hu reports that the player met Romanian businessman Sacha Dragic in Bucharest, who liked his bold, adventurous style of play. Dragic owns a sports betting company, the billionaire and the chess player chatted and the possibility of sponsorship came up.
Then, Rapport, who lives in Belgrade with his Serbian wife received a concrete offer after his next tournament in Warsaw. The company, which also has a presence in Poland, would have no problem providing with a few hundred thousand euros a year as sponsorship, but for the 26-year-old Rapport it is a golden opportunity to consolidate his place among the best, where he had just got to for the first time. However, in return, he would have to sit at the table in Romanian colors, sometimes playing for the national team.
His relation with the Hungarian federation is reported to be frosty, and it was already known that he would not be sitting at the table in India for the 2022 Chess Olympics.
László Szabó, President of the Hungarian Chess Federation (MSSZ) is quoted by the Hungarian state news agency MTI as saying that “we are looking at what legal options we still have, and we are glad that FIDE seems to have got its act together and is ready to review its current rule on flag changes, which is that a rental contract in the country in whose colors the athlete wants to play is sufficient. This is untenable, and we have proposed that a minimum of one year's nationality should be required to become a chess player from another country. This is where we are now, we are looking at how to move forward."
The President added about Richárd Rapport that “we are proud of his achievements, we see him as a Hungarian, even if he plays under the Romanian flag, he remains Hungarian."
Rapport, 26, who is ranked 13th in the world with 2,754 Élő points, finished eighth in the eight-player World Chess Championship Candidates Tournament in Madrid, which ended on July 4, with one win, nine draws and four losses.
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