Badminton stained

Badminton stained
Hans-Kristian Vittinghus (picture) and Kim Astrup have been hailed for reporting the case through the BWF ‘whistle blower’ system.

Match-fixing has allegedly been a part of badminton for some time now.

Rumours have circulated throughout the years of matches being thrown, but little could be done at the time because of a lack of evidence.

Contacted by The New Paper yesterday, former national shuttler Terry Yeo said: "I have heard of such rumours for quite a while, but I do not know of anyone who has been approached (to throw a match).

"No one has ever come out to say that he was approached, till now," said the 25-year-old, who retired from the sport earlier this year.

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) said in a statement on Monday that two players have been approached to fix matches - the shuttlers had informed the organisation via the sport's whistle-blower system - and had turned the matter over to the police.

In later reports, the identities of the two shuttlers were revealed as men's world No. 9 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and doubles player Kim Astrup, who both hail from Denmark.

They were allegedly approached on Facebook by a Malaysian man who said he had previously fixed matches in the Singapore Open and at the Thomas Cup.

In response to TNP's queries, Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) chief executive officer Ronnie Lim said yesterday: "The SBA regrets that such an incident occurred, as it only tarnishes the reputation of the sport.

"SBA is not privy to this match-fixing, especially during the Singapore Open.

"We do not condone match-fixing of any sort and we're glad that both Danish players rejected the offer and reported this incident to the authorities.

UNFORTUNATE

"It is unfortunate that Singapore's marquee badminton event is associated with this match-fixing scandal.

"We will work hand-in-hand with the BWF to ensure this scandal is put to rest."

He revealed that Singapore's national shuttlers have been encouraged to report any approaches to the association.

Yeo does not believe that the allegation will have a major negative impact on the sport.

He said: "I believe the serious contenders who make it to the later stages would not want to throw matches; they will want to win, too.

"Besides, if people suspect you, it will only harm your reputation and damage the respect people have for you and if you keep losing, you may not get selected for future tournaments as well.

"You may gain in the short term, but you lose out over the long run."

His view was echoed by a veteran Malaysian sports journalist, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The South-east Asian country has a long tradition in badminton and the current men's world No. 1 is Lee Chong Wei.

The journalist said: "I recalled seeing legal betting slips when I was covering the 2007 World Championships (in Kuala Lumpur) and I thought to my self, 'surely there will be people out there who will want to manipulate the matches'."

The problem may extend to coaches as well, and one that is difficult to eradicate.

The journalist said: "There have been stories going around for a while but, unless someone comes forward with evidence, it is often difficult to prove (match fixing)."

sayheng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 16, 2014.
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