South Korea admitted it threw its Thomas Cup match against England yesterday, plunging the elite tournament into controversy and overshadowing China’s continued march toward the title.
The Koreans lost 4-1 after fielding a weakened team, with Asian champion Park Sung-hwan and Korean Open winner Lee Hyun-il playing doubles together instead of singles.
Team manager Kim Jong-soo said their tactics were to avoid winning their group to ensure a more favorable quarter-final draw.
“We formulated a strategy before we arrived where we want to meet Denmark in the quarter-finals, and that means not finishing top of the group,” he said. “The Badminton World Federation [BWF] created these rules, but I’d much prefer having the two top automatically qualify for the quarter-finals.”
The Thomas and Uber Cup tournaments are structured so that the top finisher in each three-team group receive a bye to the quarter-finals, while the other two play an elimination game to make the last eight.
If South Korea finish top of their group they face the prospect of meeting defending champions China in the semi-finals. Finishing second or third and playing the elimination game ensures an easier route to the final.
Netherlands head coach Martijn van Dooremalen said the system was to blame.
“I don’t think it is in the spirit of the game but the way the system is, you can use tactics to come second or third and avoid the bigger name teams,” he said.
The controversy overshadowed China racing to a 5-0 win over Canada to follow up their whitewash of Nigeria on the opening day. The two victories ensure they receive a bye to the quarter-finals.
Indonesia hammered Germany 5-0 to book their place in the last eight and Japan pummelled New Zealand 5-0.
China’s women were also firing in the parallel Uber Cup. World No. 1 Xie Xingfang, Zhu Lin, and Jiang Yanjiao all easily won their singles matches to help the defending champions reach the knockout round.
Hong Kong got their Uber campaign underway with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over South Africa.
In other action, the Netherlands beat Japan 3-2.