The Badminton World Federation (BWF) sentenced a Malaysian, who was a representative of an equipment brand sponsoring several international shuttlers, to a lifetime suspension from all badminton related activity after he was found guilty of match-fixing activities.
Lim Ze Young, who was also involved at the world body’s sanctioned tournaments, was found guilty of “abusing his position of influence as an executive in a sporting brand in an attempt to corrupt international badminton and enrich himself”.
The BWF independent hearing panel consisting of three officials reached a verdict earlier this week after two whistleblowers testified that Lim had tried to coerce them into match-fixing dating back to 2014.
Upon receiving the allegations, the world body could not contact the Malaysian until 2017, when he provided his mobile phone for forensic examination.
The second interview took place in 2019, and in August 2020, Lim was charged with several violations including encouraging players to engage in match-fixing, offering gifts or payments to players to influence their efforts in badminton matches and bet and/or facilitate others to bet on tournaments.
Lim was involved in betting in several high profile tournaments including the 2017 Malaysia Open, 2017 Asia Championship, 2017 All-England and 2017 World Championships among others.
Whistleblower reports indicated that Lim first started in 2014 when he reached out to the witnesses through Facebook messenger application.
After asking a witness several questions about the 2014 Japan Open, Lim asked the person if he had a good chance of doing well in that event and explained that he was looking to pay players for match-fixing.
That same day, he used the same modus operandi with another shuttler, and explained to the person he would get paid by a bookie for losing the match. He added the player could also win the match but must give points away easily so the match would be a close fight.
He added that bookies would pay between 2300-3000 Euro (RM11,300-RM14,800) for each match.
Lim had also told both whistleblowers to not tell anyone of their conversation, but they rejected his offer once he made his pitch.
The accused’s involvement had come after he was involved in sponsorship deals of players in the company owned by his father, to which he placed bets involving their matches over the years.
In 2019, Lim had also harassed an international athlete whom he met at the Purple League.
The player asked Lim’s assistance to settle gambling debts. Lim borrowed the player RM200,000 at an interest rate of 20-25%, and later pressured him to pay the debt by threatening to expose him on social media.
Lim has 21 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
In 2018, national shuttlers Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chung Seang were handed 20- and 15-year ban respectively for their involvement in match-fixing.
Both men appealed the decision to the CAS, but it was upheld.
In another case, the world body also found eight Indonesian shuttlers guilty of match-fixing at lower-level international competitions in Asia, and suspended three of them from all badminton related activities.
The other five were suspended between six to 12-years and fined between $3,000 - $12,000 (RM12,114-RM48,456) each.