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Racism allegations overshadow trip of Marshland St James chess team representing England in Austria

09:19 14 August 2012

Chess players, from front left, Leysaa bin-Suhayl (7), Ibraheem (10) bin-Suhayl, Mum Tomasina Contu and Yousuf bin-Suhayl (13). Picture; Matthew Usher.

Chess players, from front left, Leysaa bin-Suhayl (7), Ibraheem (10) bin-Suhayl, Mum Tomasina Contu and Yousuf bin-Suhayl (13). Picture; Matthew Usher.

© Archant Norfolk 2012

An investigation has been launched amid accusations members of a Norfolk family were physically, verbally and racially abused during a chess competition.

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Youngsters Yousuf, Ibraheem and Ieysaa bin-Suhayl returned to Marshland St James, between King’s Lynn and Wisbech, on Friday having represented England at the European Youth Championships in Austria.

But the boys, aged 13, 10 and seven, along with their mother Tomasina Contu, claim they were the victims of abuse from some of the members of the English delegation.

Their father, Sohale Rahman, said matters became so heated during their stay that his family were advised not to return to their hotel over fears for their safety. The family were later escorted to the hotel by Austrian police.

“I pleaded with the English Chess Federation (ECF) to take action for the security of my family but in vain. We believe the ECF has failed in their duty of care,” he said.

Mr Rahman also said that the boys were not provided halaal food, as requested before the competition, and were given cold boiled eggs and “bits of bread” to eat while other team members indulged in a buffet.

Andrew Farthing, English Chess Federation’s chief executive, said: “We are aware of certain allegations which have been made concerning the behaviour of some of the members of the English delegation at this tournament.

“The federation is taking the situation very seriously and are investigating if there is any truth in the allegations and witness statements are currently being sought.”

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