News | Danish shuttler says no national federations should hold such power after BAM bans Zii Jia, Jin Wei for two years

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 22 — Denmark’s badminton ace Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus yesterday took the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to task for banning national player and world number seven, Lee Zii Jia and Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Junior Championships 2018 winner, Goh Jin Wei for two years.

Taking to his Facebook, Vittinghus lamented the duo’s “crime” was only to pursue their own pathways in terms of their training arrangements, which include their own training set up, tournament schedules, choosing their own coaches, as well as to  do their own sponsorship deals.

“Basically they want to make a living for themselves playing badminton professionally. Honestly, how is that a crime? They haven’t done anything whatsoever to discredit the sport nor their country.

“National federations can’t hold this kind of power. I know many federations would never use this power to block their own players from competing, but it shouldn’t even be a possibility. These players fully deserve to play badminton. There is not one good argument against it. It makes me furious and I’ll make sure these players know that we are all with them,” he wrote, describing the duo as brilliant players.

BAM had yesterday slapped Lee and Goh with a two-year ban from participating in any international tournaments.

National news agency Bernama reported BAM deputy president Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos saying that they would not register Lee for any tournaments for a two-year period effective from January 18.

Jahaberdeen, who is also the BAM Legal Advisory Committee chairman, reportedly said that a series of discussions was held with Lee after he had thrown in his resignation letter on January 11.

“However, Zii Jia has stood by his decision, claiming that he can’t stand the pressure of being in the national squad and the regimented lifestyle at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia (ABM). During one of the discussions, he also submitted several terms, which we rejected,” he was quoted saying.

BAM also meted out the same penalty against Goh who left the national badminton governing body last year, citing health reasons. Her ban is effective from October 31, 2021.

Shuttlers have to be registered through their national associations in order to compete in any BWF-sanctioned tournaments.

Jahabardeen however was reported saying that the shuttlers could appeal against BAM’s decision anytime and the door was open for them to return.

In his posting today, Vittinghus said that with the ban, Lee and Goh are now left with three choices:

“Accept it, give up your passion and find a new job. Move to a different country, live there for 12 months and then start competing again. This is only a possibility if the new country accepts to enter your name to tournaments, which could mean you would be forced to play under this new country’s flag.

“Take it to the courts. Either way the player is f*cked. There’s a minimum of 12 months of his/her career that will be wasted. And it’s already crazy you can be forced to move away from your home country, just to follow your dreams, because your national body is making full use of a power, that there is no fairness in them possessing,” he said.

Vittinghus said that previously, several world-class Korean players who were in a similar situation like Lee and Goh recently, succeeded in winning a court case against their country’s national badminton body, and are now playing under their rightful flag.

However, he lamented that they lost out on playing for a long time fighting for their right.

“Tell me again, how is this fair? And who does it benefit? Everyone is losing with these rules. A decision like today is an outright disaster for badminton.

“For these players personally it’s obviously a huge blow. But for the sport both globally and in Malaysia it’s a huge loss too. Lee Zii Jia is one of our most marketable athletes. He’s well behaved, he’s competing for the biggest titles in the world and he’s from one of the most important markets for our sport.

“We will all miss him for the time he’s out. Just like Goh Jin Wei will be missed. And honestly, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the player is. Why is the federation deciding who gets to enter OPEN tournaments? Then it’s not really an open tournament, is it??? I really really really do hope BWF soon realises this is not feasible for the future,” Vittinghus added.

He also expressed hope that “someone with knowledge, power and perhaps money would come and help the players of this sport unite to make a stance against this kind of insanity”, perhaps by even creating a new professional tour. – MALAY MAIL

by: Yiswaree Palansamy

credit photo: HarakahDaily

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