Brawl Puts 'Bad' Back Into Badminton
A year after an embarrassing match-fixing scandal at the London Olympics, badminton is back in the news for being unexpectedly badass.
As the Vancouver Sun reports, former Olympic doubles partners Bodin Issara and Maneepong Jongjit of Thailand got into a racket-swinging, fist-pounding, shirt-ripping brawl Sunday during the final men's doubles match at the Canada Open.
Issara and Jongjit played on opposing doubles teams in the tournament after what now seems to be a bad breakup after the Olympics. Each blamed the other for taunting behavior during the match, according to the Bangkok Post.
Jongjit "told reporters on Monday that [Issara] started the fight and also gave him the middle finger," the Post reports, adding that Issara's teammate said it was Jongjit "who first raised the finger as the teams switched to the opposite sides of the court" in the middle of the match.
It didn't stop with fingers. Jongjit allegedly hit Issara with his racket, again according to Jongjit's new doubles partner. YouTube video and a series of photos posted by the Sun show what happened next. Issara chased Jongjit off the course, grabbed and tore his former partner's shirt, threw him to the ground and pummeled Jongjit with clenched fists.
Coaches and tournament staff rushed in to separate the two.
Charoen Wattanasin, the president of the Badminton Association of Thailand, told the Post, "I've been in the badminton circle for 58 years and I've never seen anything like this. This is very bad."
The Badminton World Federation issued an understatement. "The Men's Doubles final ended in unusual circumstances," the group said in a news release, which also noted that both were disqualified from the match. "The events surrounding the conclusion of this match will be thoroughly investigated by the BWF."
Issara appeared on Thai television station Channel 3 Monday to apologize. With his left ear bandaged, Issara said, "I was hit in the ear by a racket, [so hard that] it bled and was ripped. This resulted in me losing my temper," according to the Post's translation of the interview.
"I apologize to all Thai people for bringing disgrace on the country," Issara reportedly said. "I take all the blame and I would like this issue to end here."