Monday, June 25, 2007

China coach has accused the BWF

China coach Li Yongbo has accused the Badminton World Federation (BWF) of “killing the development” of the sport after a row over the order of play at the Sudirman Cup, Xinhua news agency reported yesterday.

China eased to their sixth title in Glasgow on Sunday with a 3-0 victory over Indonesia but Li was enraged by a last-minute attempt to change the schedule to ensure a glamour tie between Lin Dan and Taufik Hidayat was played.

“I don’t understand how they could act like this,” Li was quoted as telling a news conference.

“Not only for this issue, in dozens of years I have been engaged in badminton, they’re killing the development of an excellent sport. They never listen to coaches and players.”

Chinese media hailed the triumph.

“Li Yongbo’s sixth kiss of the Sudirman Cup”, trumpeted Titan Sports, while Beijing Youth Daily had “Victory sealed as old rivals draw blank” and Soccer News took a break from round ball affairs with “Who else could be champions except us?”.

The Beijing News reserved a special mention for Gao Ling, who won her 14th major title, and alluded to the row with their “Sixth Cup, highest Ling and loneliest Dan”.

Dead rubbers are not played at the Sudirman Cup and with China expected to win easily, organisers had tried to move the battle between world number one Lin and his fierce Indonesian rival Taufik, the Olympic champion, up the order of play.

“This is absurd,” Li said. “I believe it hardly happens in other sports to decide the play order in such a casual way.

“In sports, the rule is like a law, you can’t just change it as you like.

“I went to state my opinion and to show my respect to the referee and the tournament. However, do they know how to respect players and coaches?

“I refused to accept the change because I think if they change it this time, they will do it next time. It just doesn’t work for an international organisation.

“I’m sorry for spectators who are deprived of an exciting final, but BWF should take responsibility for that.”

Meanwhile, changes need to be made to the draw system for the next Sudirman Cup after a major embarrassment on the final day, championship director Anne Smillie has acknowledged.

Spectators and TV stations globally were robbed on Sunday of a much anticipated clash between Chinese world number one Dan and Indonesia’s Hidayat.

Smillie said after China had won the cup for the sixth time that an overhaul of the procedure was needed.

“The success of a tournament can’t be drawn out of a hat,” she said.

Saturday night’s draw for the order of play had unfortunately put Lin and Hidayat last of the five matches but such is the dominance of the Chinese the final was always highly unlikely to go to a fifth match.

Sunday’s 3-0 scoreline proved the pundits right and meant there was no need to play the women’s doubles and the concluding men’s singles between Lin and Hidayat.

Smillie defended referee Keith Hawthorne, explaining: “In the latter stages of the tournament the draw is out of a hat for matches one to five and that is what happened. And I think that was the view of the referee — that this is what has been in place, which is fair.”

When the realisation took hold that Lin and Hidayat would likely be ghosts at the feast officials tried hard on Sunday morning to retrieve the situation.

However, no agreement could be reached as China coach Yongbo stood firm, later accusing officials of a “casual attitude” over the draw once it had been made.

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