Sports betting syndicates operating from South East Asia, earlier notorious for match-fixing in football, are reported to be under the scanner for attempted match-fixing in international badminton. Badminton’s governing body Badminton World Federation (BWF) has approached the police to investigate claims by men’s singles world No. 9 Hans-Kristian Vittinghus and doubles player Kim Astrup who were sought out on Facebook by a Malaysian man, who said he had previously fixed matches in Singapore Open and Thomas Cup.
According to the BWF, the two players reported the approaches under the governing body’s betting “Whistle Blower” system in June this year, after they were invited to conspire with other persons to fix matches at The Thomas Cup, held in New Delhi in May this year, and the Singapore Open soon after.
Badminton’s dark side came to the fore during Olympics when the doubles draw witnessed players tanking matches to get themselves a good draw. However, the presence of external syndicates interested in manipulating match results is relatively new to the sport. “It’s against everything I stand for as a badminton player. I was never in doubt that the BWF should be notified immediately, and today I’m happy we had him reported,” Vittinghus said. Astrup, who said he was offered between $3,200 and $3,800 in addition to being able to bet on his own game, added he was “not surprised” match-fixing took place in badminton. “But I am surprised it is taking place at the highest level. Occasionally one sees results that seem unbelievable, but here there’s real evidence that match-fixing takes place,” he said.
BWF president Poul-Erik Hoyer told the Danish Broadcasting Corporation the case was the “biggest” he could remember.
Outside BWF’s ambit
The person soliciting players’ involvement, according to the BWF, is a person outside the badminton community and it was therefore not possible for BWF to investigate the matter. Therefore, BWF handed the case to the appropriate Malaysian police authorities, who had the necessary legal jurisdiction to investigate the issue.
BWF president Poul-Erik Høyer said, “It is a complex and sensitive area that may involve criminal syndicates which are not part of the badminton community.” He said that corruption was on the top of the international federation’s agenda and it will act in accordance with the law and BWF’s integrity principles on such issues. “It is important that players are aware of the adverse effects of match-fixing and the only safe route is to reject any approaches from individuals soliciting involvement in match-fixing. Such activities are not only contrary to BWF’s integrity principles, but also pose risks to players’ safety who become entangled with criminal syndicates,” Høyer added.
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