PETALING JAYA: Former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli was crying foul after walking out in the second round of the Korean Open GP Gold in Jeonju City on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old was upset over the poor quality of refereeing in his match against Korean shuttler Han Ki-hoon and decided he had had enough after trailing 19-21, 10-15.
“I wasn’t injured ... but it’s not possible to play at all when the umpire, service judge and linesmen are all Korean,” said a distraught Zulfadli, who is not under the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) programme.
“In the first game I already had three bad calls against me and then in the second, I was given two more bad calls.
“When I tapped the shuttlecock at the net, I was called for a fault but when my opponent did the same there was no fault at all.
“It was just impossible to play because my opponent was getting so many free points from the umpire.
“I called for the tournament referee and he told me that I had to continue and that all their umpires and linesmen are Korean.
“This is simply too biased because a GP Gold tournament of this scale must at least have some umpires and service judges who are not from the host country.
“I don’t think I did anything wrong so I don’t see why I should face any sort of action for walking out of the match.
“For me it’s a disappointment because I’ve been injury free for a while and was looking forward to doing well ... it just wasn’t going to happen. I can only regroup and focus on my next tournament – the Macau Open (Nov 26-Dec 1),” added the world No. 56.
Zulfadli’s claims were backed by national singles coach Hendrawan who was overseeing his charges – Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin and Loh Wei Sheng.
“It’s true that the level of umpiring was quite poor. But that’s how it is ... the advantage always belongs to the host,” said Hendrawan.
The unknown Ki-hoon will go on to meet 16th seed Park Sung-min in the third round.
There were also mixed fortunes for BAM duo Iskandar and Wei Sheng.
World No. 65 Iskandar, who is set to make his debut at the Myanmar SEA Games gave a strong performance to dispatch Thailand’s Parinyawat Thongnuam 21-11, 21-16.
He will go on to meet Ha Young-woong for a place in the quarter-finals.
Wei Sheng however was outclassed by a semi-retired Olympic semi-finalist Lee Hyun-il 10-21, 8-21.
The 33-year-old Hyun-il who came through the qualifiers will next meet compatriot Kim Dong-hoon who outlasted Indonesian fifth seed Riyanto Subagja 21-19, 18-21, 21-19.
“Wei Sheng was just out of his depth against Hyun-il who still plays at a very high level. The difference between both players was just too much,” said Hendrawan.