PETALING JAYA: Former international Wong Choong Hann (pic) expressed his shock at the career-ending bans handed by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to independent shuttlers Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chun Seang who were found guilty of match-fixing.
The 41-year-old has described the 15 and 20 years suspension slapped on Chun Seang and Zulfadli respectively as harsh.
He expects the two players to make an appeal.
“I was shocked when I got to know about it this morning. I think it’s quite harsh,” said former the World Championships silver medallist.
“While these two players must be held responsible for what they have done, I still think they deserve a chance to pick themselves up from where they fall.”
BWF announced their long-awaited verdict on Wednesday, suspending and fining Zulfadli and Chun Seang for breaching the BWF Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results.
The bans cover administrative, coaching, officiating, or developmental functions. Chun Seang has been fined US$15,000 (RM58,897) and Zulfadli US$25,000 (RM98,162).
While the lengthy bans marked the end of the two shuttlers’ playing careers, Choong Hann has advised them not to totally give up on badminton as they can still very much get involved in the sport in the future.
“They have been in the badminton circle long enough, so there’s always room for them to return ... maybe venturing into coaching,” said Choong Hann, who described his relationship with the two junior players as “close”.
“But whether people accept them is another issue.
“But I always believe in offenders getting a second chance after they are penalised. It’s just like criminals. After serving their time in jail, they should be out ‘clean’.
“Regardless, there’s always life after any setbacks. Things will always work out as long as you are determined.
“Badminton players are naturally fighters, you’ll fight what life throws at you.”
National doubles chief coach Cheah Soon Kit, meanwhile, said the BWF judgement was justified and should serve as a huge lesson to all the shuttlers worldwide.
“The BWF must have conducted their investigation thoroughly before coming up with the punishment, and the judgement indicated the seriousness of the offence (of what the two players) committed,” said the 1996 Atlanta Olympics silver medallist.
“This should serve as a stern warning to all players. It’s not the right thing to do.
“In sports, it’s all about professionalism and sportmanship.”
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