Ex-Olympic partners in badminton brawl

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) is investigating an on-court fight between Thai players Maneepong Jongjit and Bodin Issara during the men's doubles final at the Canada Open on Sunday.

  • Published: 23/07/2013 at 12:00 AM
  • Newspaper section: news

While it was not clear who started the punch up, reports said Bodin and Maneepong, who were on opposing sides in the doubles match, glared at each other and exchanged several heated words as the two teams changed ends mid-match.

Footage showed Bodin then suddenly let go of his racquet and chase his opponent into another court.

Bodin then tackled Maneepong to the ground and repeatedly punched and kicked him until coaches and tournament staff intervened.

Badminton Association of Thailand president Charoen Wattanasin said the fist fight was the most embarrassing incident in Thailand's badminton history.

He described the incident as the worst in his decades-long career as a player and an official, and said the duo could face a life ban by the BWF.

"I have been in badminton for 58 years and never seen anything like this. It is very bad and causes damage to our reputation," said Mr Charoen.

"We will listen to reports from the team manager and coaches and will set up a committee to look into the matter after the team returns home tomorrow [today].

"I am worried the Badminton World Federation may take action and the players could face a life ban. I don't want this to happen because it is an internal affair."

Bodin and his partner Pakkawat Vilailak were disqualified after the fight with the title awarded to Maneepong and Nipitphon Puangpuapech, who won the first set 21-12.

The incident, which can be viewed on YouTube, overshadowed the triumph of Thailand's Nichaon Jindopon in the women's singles with a 21-18, 21-16 win over Hong Kong's Pui Yin Yip.

In a statement, the BWF said: "The men's doubles final ended in unusual circumstances, with a black card being issued to Thailand pair, Bodin Issara and Pakkawat Vilailak, who were disqualified. Their opponents were another Thai duo, Maneepong Jongjit and Nipitphon Puangpuapech.

"The events surrounding the conclusion of this match will be thoroughly investigated by the BWF. The world-governing body has procedures in place to deal with such situations and this matter will be referred to the disciplinary committee.

"Until this process is concluded there will be no further comment by the BWF."

Maneepong claimed Bodin grew angry when his team won a point and celebrated.

"He asked us why we were very noisy and then challenged me to a fight several times," Maneepong, 22, said.

"At the end of the first set, he came straight to me and punched me."

In another video clip, Bodin, also 22, offers apologies to all concerned parties although he claimed he was provoked.

"I am taking sole responsibility for the incident, although I was hit in the ear by a racquet," said Bodin whose right ear was covered with bandages after he received five stitches.

"I lost my cool. I want the matter to end here."

Bodin's partner Pakkawat said it was Maneepong who provoked Bodin when he raised his middle finger to him.

Before this year, Maneepong and Bodin were partners and among Thailand's best hopes to win the country's first-ever Olympic medal.

They reached the quarter-finals at the 2012 Olympics but Bodin surprisingly announced his retirement earlier this year.

In public, Bodin said he wanted to help run his family's business but insiders said he had been at odds with Maneepong and did not want to play alongside him.

A few days later, Bodin made a U-turn and has since played with new partners other than Maneepong.

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Writer: Kittipong Thongsombat
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