The Badminton Association of India’s (BAI) public stand that the governing body was self-sufficient and did not need government funding seems nothing more than mere posturing.
Having forced four players to withdraw from the Chinese Taipei and Macau Open last month, BAI has decided to withdraw entries of those players who are not willing to fund their trip to the Bitburger Open and Belgian Open later this month.
BAI president, VK Verma, confirmed the development but insisted that lack of funds was not the reason behind the decision.
“I got a call from Gopi Chand (national coach) from Singapore that he wanted all the players in the core group to be training and not playing the tournament. Hence, we decided to pull the team out,” Verma told Hindustan Times.
“These tournaments were never in our Commonwealth Games’ preparation plan so it does not matter if the players play or not. But those who want to go at their own cost can go, he added.
What Verma did not explain was why the apex body had sent the entries of 16 players from the core group. BAI has been sending entries of core group players according to a yearly plan chalked out by the national coach and if the two tournaments were not part of the plan, the entries shouldn’t have been sent.
Also, if the national coach wanted all players at the camp, it is surprising that Gopi Chand has no objection in allowing the players to go if they could fund their own trip. Attempts to contact Gopi Chand, who is accompanying the team at the Youth Olympics, proved futile.
Sources said BAI had approached the government under the Commonwealth Games’ preparation scheme to fund the trips for the World Championship and the two tournaments but the request was turned down. The nine-member World Championship team will now be funded through the money paid by Premier Brands under the sponsorship deal.
Premier Brands could also quit
Though the sponsor is currently on board, BAI’s problems could be compounded if Premier Brands also pulls out if the government de-recognises the apex body. “We cannot go against the government of India. If the government decides to de-recognise the body, it will be our last day with BAI,” said a company official.
The government has already issued a show-cause notice to BAI asking why the government should not de-recognise it after the apex body disregarded the Sports Ministry’s tenure guidelines and elected Verma as president for the fourth consecutive term.
Players yet to get Premier Brands money
The players are also unhappy that they are yet to get any money from the Premier Brands’ deal. When BAI signed the deal in February, it was promised that top players would be given graded contracts.
The R 7.5 crore generated from the three-year deal was to be paid to the contracted players. A committee was formed under the chairmanship of Gopi Chand to select the players but it is yet.
Premier Brands has already paid the first installment of R 62.5 lakh to BAI and the money will be used to send the team to the World Championship in France next week.