Thailand’s top badminton official said yesterday he was trying to save the country’s tarnished image after an on-court brawl between former Olympics doubles partners, which he called unprecedented in the past half-century of Thai badminton.
Yesterday’s comments by Charoen Wattanasin, president of the Badminton Association of Thailand, came a day after the world badminton body opened two disciplinary cases against the players for their outburst during the Canada Open men’s doubles final.
The fight was caught on video and has hundreds of thousands of viewers online.
The footage shows Bodin Issara lunging at his former partner Maneepong Jongjit and chasing him around the court, then onto a neighboring court before punching him and kicking him several times on the ground.
Bodin, who needed two stitches, said Maneepong hit him with a racket. Prior to the blows, the pair had already received a warning from the referee for a verbal exchange.
“At this point, I’m not focusing on which side is right or wrong,” said Charoen, who has been involved in Thai badminton for nearly 60 years.
“The damage already happened and I’m trying to save the country’s image in the badminton world,” he said.
“I’ve never seen any incident as embarrassing as this one. Badminton is a gentleman’s game. Something like this has never happened before,” Charoen said.
The Badminton World Federation said in a statement on Thursday that its disciplinary committee was investigating the events and has asked both players to provide written explanations by Wednesday next week.
Both players face charges of inappropriate conduct, oral abuse and unsportsmanlike conduct. Bodin faces additional charges of physical abuse and conduct contrary to the integrity of the game.
Officials have not commented on possible sanctions, but the players could face bans, suspensions or fines.
Bodin and Maneepong, both 22, were among the top-ranked badminton pairings and reached the quarter-finals at the 2012 Olympics.
They split in January, when Bodin retired to take care of his ailing mother, but was soon competing again with another partner.
Sunday’s final ended with Maneepong and new partner Nipitphon Puangpuapech, also from Thailand, being awarded the victory after Bodin was shown a black card.
Bodin issued an apology on national television earlier this week.
“I was smacked in my ear by a racket until I bled, and my ear ripped open. I lost my cool,” he said. “I have to apologize to every Thai fan that I shed bad light on our country.”