In April 2018, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Ethics Hearing Panel barred two Malaysian players from all badminton activities for a period of 20 years (with a fine of USD $25,000) and 15 years (with a fine of USD $15,000) for various offences under the regulations related to match manipulation and match fixing.
The decision ended the playing careers of both Zulfadli Zulkifli and Tan Chun Seang, but the matter has not ended there.
It is reliably learnt that the BWF has now requested that the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) pay up the USD 40,000 (RM 167,716) total fine. A letter to the effect was said to have been delivered to the BAM sometime last month.
The BAM has to settle the amount sometime next month. The BWF regulation 16.4 states:
Any fine imposed on a Covered Person shall be notified to the Member to which the person belongs that shall have the responsibility for submitting payment to the BWF, within 60 days from the date of that notification.
Zulfadli and Chun Seang, through the BAM had appealed their suspension at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in July.
Zulfadli was found to have committed 27 violations of the Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results, while Chun Seang 26 violations. They were alleged to have been involved in match-fixing at six tournaments — London Open GP Gold (2013), Dutch Open GP (2013), Korea Open GP Gold (2014), Macau Open GP (2014), US Open GP (2014) and Brazil Open GP Gold (2016).
Chun Seang had represented Malaysia at the Thomas Cup while Zulfadli was a former world junior champion.
Already having spend considerable amount at the CAS, the BAM has no choice but to pay up the fine sum.
Neither of the two players are said to be in the financial position to take the responsibility. And having been already banned from the sport, it would be absurd to believe any one in their position to do so.
If the duration of suspension was just a couple of years, there would have been some motivation for the duo to pay up. But with the BWF coming hard with such long suspensions, the players have no reason to move forward.
When the BWF meted out their initial suspension on the duo in May last year, BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria had said that the association was not responsible for the fine, and would only assist in the appeal process.
However, the BWF regulation is crystal clear on who was responsible, in this case the BAM.
While both Zulfadli and Chun Seang were non-BAM independent players at the time they were implicated, the BAM was still vicariously responsible for them. Perhaps, not understanding the BWF regulations, Zulfadli had appealed to the BAM to help settle the fine when he was handed the initial suspension and fine.
The BWF does not accept entries from any individual players to any of their sanctioned tournaments. Whether players were from the national training centre or independent, the BWF still considers them as representing the national body concerned.
To make matters more complicated, the BAM does not have any agreement with the independent players to resolve such situations.
The fine would put a further dent on the BAM coffers. The poor run in major internationals and the absence of top players like Datuk Lee Chong Wei are said to be major issues of contention for sponsors.