Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Let's fix the fixers

Dane Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was one of the players approached by a Malaysian bookie at the Japan Open in June. - EPA
Dane Hans-Kristian Vittinghus was one of the players approached by a Malaysian bookie at the Japan Open in June. - EPA


It was at the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur in 2007 when I first became aware of the possible existence of match-fixing in badminton.

I remember being informed of a piece of paper that was found on the floor at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil when the cleaners were sweeping the spectators’ arena.

On that crumpled piece of paper was printed names of two players and the person who “possessed” it had chosen one of them as the winner.

A quick check showed that the printed copy was from a legal betting company based overseas.

The matter was highlighted to the then Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president – Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh.

Nadzmi immediately issued a strong statement, which was published in this paper, asking his players and coaches to keep away from match-fixing or they could face a heavy penalty.

Even before that, there had been talk of match-fixing in badminton – albeit not as openly as in football.

My former boss had spoken about it; former senior reporters had shared their suspicions; and officials had quietly whispered about it.

But there were also some who kept quiet about it because they do not want to get into trouble.

It had all been just talk based on suspicions and assumptions – with no evidence to back them.

So, it came as a pleasant surprise when two courageous Danish players – Hans Kristian Vittinghus and Kim Astrup Sorensen – reported the matter to the authorities.

Apparently, a Malaysian had approached them to fix their matches during the Japan Open in June. Money was offered to them to lose their matches but the duo stood by their principles.

They rejected it and highlighted it to the Badminton World Federation (BWF). The world body have now handed over the matter to the police to conduct their investigations
Let’s hope the culprits will be brought to justice.

This will serve as a warning to bookies to stay away from the world of badminton.

Sports should be free of manipulation.

A badminton match – or any match for that matter – should be won on a level playing field.

Not through cheating.

This is the second time that BWF have faced a similar issue.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, eight women’s doubles shuttlers threw their matches – and all four pairs were penalised.

Then, it was easier for the world body to take action because it involved those within their set-up.

BWF need all stakeholders to do their part. It depends more on the players and coaches – to stick to playing the game in an honourable way.

If the players and coaches do not fall to the lure of money, then match-fixing will die a slow death.

Hopefully, more will follow in the footsteps of the Danish players and say “No” – even if millions are dangled in front of them.

Honour, principles and fair play are more precious than gold and silver.

Anyway, kudos to BWF for coming down strongly on match-fixing and acting swiftly.


by Rajes Paul - The Star 

 The writer is hoping that Malaysian players will not fall prey to bookies because it just ain’t worth it. She believes that it is time to fix the fixers.

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