The Botez Sisters Respond To Backlash Following Dubai Comments
FIDE Chess World Championship 2021 has begun in Dubai, and it's no surprise that the Botez sisters, who have made their name streaming their chess success to the masses, are in attendance. Although, the siblings found themselves in hot water following some comments made during a live stream.
Alexandra and Andrea Botez have gained a loyal fanbase over the years thanks to their badass chess skills demonstrated on their Twitch and YouTube channels. The queens of the chessboard have also been celebrated for joining the likes of Imane 'Pokimane' Anys, by speaking out against the misogyny and sexism they have had to face in a male-dominated industry. Pokimane herself has, also, been incredibly vocal against sexist subs who have made offensive comments during her streams.
The Botez sisters are also not afraid to admit defeat, as demonstrated when Andrea rewarded a fan with her phone number for beating at her game. However, during the Chess World Championship in Dubai, the sisters found themselves under fire from some members of their fanbase for their comments about the laws and lifestyles of Dubai compared to the West.
What Did The Botez Sisters Say?
During a live stream from the Chess World Championships, the dynamic duo were answering a series of questions from their fans. Towards the end of the stream, the sisters were asked a series of questions, including their status as celebrities, how they feel about being approached in person by fans, and what they'd be doing if they weren't streamers. Then, things took a more political turn after fans asked Alexandra why she studied International Relations. She claimed that some commentators in the chat were "trying to stir up things in a situation when we're not allowed to speak openly."
The sisters faced recurrent questions from fans asking about their opinions on Dubai and the alleged violation of human rights that occurs in the UAE, including reports of the enforcement of slavery. Not to mention, the country has proven to be highly controversial, especially in the Western world, due to the treatment of women, particularly rape victims, as well as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
When asked about the sisters' opinions, Alexandra stressed that they would not be able to speak entirely freely as they would be able to do so when back in the US. However, she did say: "We’re in Dubai, so I’m not going to say anything in particular about this country, the only thing that bothers me is when people from first-world or developed countries sh*t on developing countries for doing things that those developed countries also did in the first place."
How Did Alexandra Clarify Her Comments?
The controversial comment sparked a wave of anger from her fans, with one streamer in particular showing his anger at the comment in one clip. So much so, that Alex had to clarify her comments later on in the discussion. Alexandra explained: "It’s not that 'other countries did it, so we can do it as well'...this is a longer discussion, we’re not going to be able to … if you just listen to sound bites and don’t listen to the entire discussion, then certain nuances are going to be missed."
Alexandra frequently claimed that her and her sister were not allowed to speak freely, given the circumstances and the limited time they had left for the stream. For fans who are keen to keep an eye on the sisters' progress during the Championship, the event is being held from November 24 - December 16. As of writing, the sisters are currently witnessing an ongoing match between Ian Nepomniachtchi and the reigning world champion Magnus Carlsen.
The Botez Sisters Dubai Comments: Alexandra Apologises
Since publishing this article, the sisters have since shared a Q&A in which Alexandra apologised for her comments and went into further details about her views. In the stream, Alexandra said: "Before we get start with the stream, I wanted to address some of the comments on LSF that we're defending or supporting slavery. Nothing justifies human rights violations, nothing. We obviously do not support slavery of any kind, for any reason, anywhere. We have said this throughout our streams at the World Chess Championship multiple times but, of course, this isn't the part that got clipped."
"Last time we streamed I made a dumb off-hand comment, that couldn't be further from what I actually think. It was a moment of poor articulation of a half-baked, unrelated thought and out of context I see how that could be interpreted to mean a variety of different things. I am really sorry for that."
Alexandra also denied the claims that the sisters had been paid to attend the Championship and she stressed that the fact they were in the UAE did not mean that they agree with local politics. Given how the comments have caused such an explosive reaction online, it's likely that the sisters will go into further detail about their views when they come home, as Alexandra has said they will do upon their return to the USA.