Chinese coach hits out at BWF over reaction to London 2012 match rigging scandal
Thursday, 20 September 2012
September 20 - The head coach of China's badminton team, Li Yongbo, has risked reigniting the row over the expulsion of eight women's doubles players during the London 2012 Olympics by accusing the Badminton World Federation (BWF) of "carelessness".
China's Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli (pictured top, left and right) were kicked out of the tournament for trying to lose a group stage match with South Korea's Kim Ha Na and Jung Kyung-Eun.
They were accused of intentionally throwing the match to avoid a tough second round tie with Chinese rivals Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei, the number one seeds who went on to win gold.
Another South Korean pair and an Indonesian duo were also expelled from the Olympics.
Yang has since retired from the sport.
"It's too careless, I can't understand why they didn't let them play," Li told Chinese Central Television.
"The BWF had never punished any player for match-throwing, even any slight punishment.
"When Indonesia and Malaysia played in the Thomas Cup, neither of them wanted to face the Chinese team, so they played the singles games with players who used to play doubles, and played the doubles games with singles players.
"Of course the game is not enjoyable for spectators, and I know that.
"But you have never set any standard in the past, and there are problems in the rules."
Li brought in the example of football teams who use second choice players for their last group stage matches in tournaments when they are guaranteed qualification for the next phase as an example of what he sees as double standards.
It is a particularly pertinent example, given that the Japanese women's football coach had admitted intentionally playing not to win their last group match at the Olympics on the same night that the badminton row erupted.
He asked: "Soccer teams send substitutes to play after they qualify for the next round, is that match throwing?
"Usain Bolt doesn't run with full efforts in the last 20 metres - is that sloppy play?"
Li, a Barcelona 1992 Olympic bronze medal winning badminton player himself, has in the past been under pressure for allegedly ordering players to lose matches against rivals fighting to win Olympic spots, and often sits near the court in important games to shout at referees.
He has led China to 16 Olympic gold medals since becoming national team coach in 1993, as the country has dominated the sport.
Li's stance could set him at odds with the Chinese Olympic Committee, which took the allegations extremely seriously and ordered the players to apologise.
Unlike their South Korean and Indonesian counterparts, China did not oppose the initial ruling to expel their players from the competition – although Indonesia later withdrew their appeal.
September 2012: Indonesia hands four-month ban to badminton duo found guilty of match-throwing at London 2012
August 2012: South Korean badminton players win appeals after London 2012 match-rigging
August 2012: World badminton chief determined to rid game of disreputable behaviour
August 2012: China claims first badminton gold medal of scandal-tainted Olympics
August 2012: Disqualified Asian badminton players have London 2012 accreditations revoked