Kudos to Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) for acting swiftly to investigate the gambling debts of two up and coming national players.
This will serve as a warning to other players that gambling will not be tolerated.
BAM, however, should reveal the outcome of its investigation which prompted the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to step in to “interview” the players – even though they did not bet on badminton matches.
This is seen as a precautionary move to ascertain if the players can pay back their “gambling debts” without resorting to untoward action.
It is learnt the national players admitted they had borrowed money from loan sharks to pay off their debts but it had now run into “hundreds of thousands of ringgit”.
Twentytwo13 broke the news yesterday and although initially reluctant to reveal any details, BAM had later in the day issued a statement saying it is “assisting and cooperating with BWF in some aspects of its investigation”.
BAM stressed it is not at liberty to disclose its involvement but reiterated that “none of our players are subject matter of the BWF investigation”.
Gambling and match-fixing are sore points as Malaysians – Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chun Seang – are serving 20-year and 15-year suspensions respectively after being found guilty of “actual and attempted match- and point-fixing for the purposes of betting”.
Both players denied the charges but two weeks ago, the Court of Arbitration for Sports upheld BWF Ethics Hearing’s decision.
Late last year, a Malaysian national coach alleged several top shuttlers were involved in betting activities during training.
In 2017, a Bukit Jalil Sports School student was slapped with a three-month suspension after he admitted he had financial issues due to online gambling.
Those incidents led BAM president Datuk Seri Mohamed Norza Zakaria to say: “We have zero tolerance when it comes to gambling or even match-fixing.”
Gambling or betting on sports is in breach of BAM’s Code of Conduct and Ethics.
Section 10 deals with ‘Betting, match-fixing and corruption’ and 10.2 states: ‘A player and/or an official must not bet, wager or attempt to bet or wager on the outcome or any other aspect of any other sports, including but not limited to football, Formula 1, basketball, snooker, etc. and/or any other activities. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes but not limited to outcomes of activities during training sessions.’
So what should the punishment be for shuttlers who breach the regulations?
Should they be given long suspensions or be dropped from the national team?Or should they be given guidance and help to overcome their ‘addiction’ to gambling?
Don’t forget Japan’s Kento Momota was dropped from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics despite being one of the gold medal favourites after admitting to gambling in an illegal casino.
He returned to badminton a year later and is now the world No. 1 shuttler as well as the 2018 world champion.
Momota’s former teammate, former world No. 3 Kenichi Tago, however, was banned indefinitely by the Japan BA as it was reported he lost 10 million Yen in more than 60 visits to illegal casinos in Japan.
Momota was said to have joined him six times and lost half a million yen.
This is a delicate matter and one BAM must get right as the gambling culture must be stamped out quickly.
Educating the players on the evils of gambling and betting should be the top priority.
And stern action must be taken if they are found guilty