DENMARK fear that badminton fans would start to turn away from the sport if the Badminton World Federation (BWF) do not make a major revamp to the present competition format for the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup tournaments.
Chief coach Steen Pedesen described the strategies of several teams who deliberately lose matches in order to choose their future opponents as not good for the sport.
He was unhappy, in particular, with South Korea's staged defeat by England yesterday.
“It is unfair for the badminton fans who turned up to watch the Koreans play like Donald Ducks against England. Something is wrong with the playing system when we start having teams like Korea disrupting the quality of this world-class competition,” said Pedesen.
“At a time when badminton is striving for global appeal, this problem is giving the sport a bad image. Winners should be decided on the court alone, and off court plotting needs to be eliminated.”
He gave the assurance that his squad would not stoop so low as to tarnish the reputation of the competition.
Pedesen offered a suggestion to solve the problem, which stemmed from the decision to allow all 16 teams to progress to the knockout stage.
“If BWF feel that they want all 16 teams to move on, they could have a separate draw for the second round onwards,” he said.
“The four group champions should qualify automatically to the quarter-finals. And a fresh draw needs to be made after the group ties for the second- and third-placed finishers. This is to determine their positions and opponents for the knockout phase.
“By holding a separate draw after the group phase, teams can no longer plan ahead to choose their future opponents before the tournament has even started.”
Pedesen also gave a word of caution to the Koreans, who cited their main reason for fielding weakened teams against South Korea and Malaysia was to meet Denmark in the quarter-finals.
“Denmark's target in this competition is to win every tie, regardless of the opposition. We do not have preference or any reason to avoid any team.
“If the Koreans think they are being smart by playing us in the last eight, they are in for a surprise. Denmark have beaten Korea before in the Thomas Cup and we are capable of doing it again.”
The Danes, who have yet to emerge as the champions, were the finalists in the last two editions in 2004 and 2006.
What the others say
CHRISTIAN HADINATA (Indonesian manager and doubles legend): I do not think South Korea did anything wrong. They saw a way to get the best out of the system and capitalised on it. They adopted the strategy that they think is right for the team. Yes, thowing away matches is not good for the sport. A review of the system is needed to prevent teams from doing this.
MISBUN SIDEK (Malaysia's singles coach): It is a pity that the players are forced to do this. Yes, it is a team strategy but one that is not good for the morale of the players. I hope this will not happen again.
LI YONGBO (China's chief coach): We cannot make a fuss over South Korea's move. They used the format very well. China, however, will never do this.