Ex-national shuttler Yeo: Match-fixing rumours have been around
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.
"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)."
"It has been going on for ages. Match-fixing is like ‘cancer’ and it has taken root in badminton. It is now a moneymaking sport for bookies and sadly some players are involved in it. Coaches have informers and they inform us whether our players are selling matches and shockingly, 80 per cent of the information is true. It is tough to monitor unless we deny the players Internet access and also confiscate their phones before tournaments."
- A Malaysian coach, in a report in the New Straits Times
We'll come down hard on this scourge, says badminton boss
Badminton's governing body has asked police to investigate claims by the world No. 9 and another Danish player that they were approached to throw matches.
Badminton World Federation (BWF) president Poul-Erik Hoyer (above) told the Danish Broadcasting Corporation that the case was the "biggest" he could remember.
Singles player Hans-Kristian Vittinghus, who is world-ranked ninth, and doubles player Kim Astrup, told the broadcasters that they received offers to their Facebook accounts by a Malaysian man who said he had previously fixed games in the Singapore Open and the Thomas Cup.
"It's against everything I stand for as a badminton player. I was never in doubt that the (Badminton World) Federation should be notified immediately, and today I'm happy that we had him reported," Vittinghus said.
Astrup, who said he was offered between 2,500 and 3,000 euros ($4,000 and $4,800) in addition to being able to bet on his own game, added he was "not surprised" match-fixing took place in badminton.
"But I am surprised that it is taking place at the highest level. Occasionally, one sees results that seem unbelievable, but here there's real evidence that match-fixing takes place," he said.
The Malaysia-based BWF has given no details on the match-fixing offer.
But it said in a statement on Monday that it had reported the alleged offer to the police and "has been cooperating fully in an ongoing investigation into these matters".
"BWF is very satisfied that the players who were contacted about the match-fixing offer completely rejected it and also reported the case through the BWF 'whistle blower' system, which was set up precisely to handle such incidents," Hoyer said in the statement, adding the BWF took "all reports of match-fixing allegations absolutely seriously".
Hoyer, who took the helm of BWF last year, has pledged to come down hard on match-fixing in the wake of the 2012 Olympic scandal, when eight women's doubles players were disqualified for trying to lose group games to gain an easier quarter-final draw. - AFP.