Badminton: 'Disqualify them' says former British star amid match-throwing allegations

 

Former British badminton star Gail Emms has called for the four women's pairs who last night apparently tried to throw matches to be disqualified from the Olympics.

She also claimed the referee had been warned before the matches that something "dodgy" could happen, but the concerns were dismissed.

In scenes of farce at Wembley Arena on Tuesday evening, a pair from China, two from South Korea and another from Indonesia seemed to want to lose in an attempt to manipulate the draw.

The Badminton World Federation confirmed that all four pairs would face charges of "not using one's best efforts to win a match" and "conducting oneself in a manner that is clearly abusive or detrimental to the sport".

A hearing will be held later on Wednesday morning with a decision due to be announced in due course.

But Emms, who won Olympic silver with Nathan Robertson in the mixed doubles in Athens in 2004, told BBC Radio Five Live: "This is the Olympic Games, if badminton wants to save face I personally feel they should disqualify the four pairs and re-instate the pairs who came third and fourth in the group and then have a better competition.

"You cannot do this in an Olympic Games, this is something that is not acceptable and it just makes not only our sport but the organisers and the poor crowd who had to watch, who pay good money to watch two matches....it was just disgraceful, absolutely disgraceful.

"I would disqualify them."

All four pairs had already qualified for the last eight meaning the only issues at stake were the final placings in the first-round group stage.

The fiasco began when Chinese top seeds Wang Xiaoli and Yu Yang started to show little interest in beating Koreans Jung Kyung-eun and Kim Ha-na to finish top of Group A.

Coming second would have meant avoiding compatriots and second seeds Tian Qing and Zhao Yunlei at least until the final.

Tian and Zhao had been sent off their natural path to the final as second seeds by defeat to Denmark's Kamilla Rytter Juhl and Christinna Pedersen earlier in the day.

The Koreans responded to China's antics by copying them and referee Thorsten Berg emerged to warn all the players.

The match restarted and the Koreans went on to win 21-14 21-11. The startling statistic revealed the longest rally in the first game had been just four strokes.

The matter did not end there as a second Korean pair, the third seeds Ha Jung-eun and Kim Min-jung, then attempted to engineer defeat in their match against Indonesia's Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii.

Their motive was apparent retaliation to avoid Wang and Yu in the quarter-finals, an outcome they failed to achieve as they eventually won 18-21 21-14 21-12.

The Indonesians were not bystanders in the affair either as they responded to the Koreans by trying to lose themselves.

With the crowd getting increasingly restless, Berg again intervened and brandished the black card to disqualify the players.

He quickly rescinded his decision on protest but returned courtside, despite an attempt to restrain him by the Indonesia coach, as the histrionics - now including time-wasting - continued.

Emms also claimed that the referee was warned about the potential for a situation developing in the evening session earlier in the day but dismissed any concerns.

"This point was raised in the lunchtime manager's meeting," she said. "All the managers got together with the referee and said, 'look, this has happened, in Group D you will find some very dodgy matches going on in the evening because of it' and the referee laughed and said 'oh don't be silly'.

"And the managers said 'we know the game, we know the players and we know the teams and we know this is going to happen."

She added: "Badminton, in the Olympics and in all tournaments across the circuit, it's never played in a group stage, it's always a straight knockout system and for some reason they decided that the Olympic Games in 2012 should be this group stages.

"And as soon as heard that I went 'it's going to bring up match fixing', that was my first thought, and lo and behold last night that is exactly what happened."

Fabrice Vallet, a coach with the France team, confirmed that the issue had been raised after Tian and Zhao's defeat earlier in the day.

Vallet said: "By deciding to organise the tournament with a group section, when you had two doubles pairs of certain countries, it was obvious something like this would happen. It happened.

"During the team managers' meeting I think the Australian team manager asked the question about the situation.

"He was asking for all the matches to be played at the same time to avoid this type of thing.

"They didn't do it and we had yesterday what we deserved. The BWF have to be tough and take the right decision. Something like this cannot happen in sport."

PA

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