Lee Zii Jia's Coach Accuses BAM Of Bullying Professional Players With Its 'Weird' Policy

Wong Tat Meng criticised the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) for introducing the alleged rule so close to the the World Championships.

Cover image via Team LZJ via New Straits Times & @tatmeng_wong (Instagram)

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Malaysian shuttler Lee Zii Jia's coach, Wong Tat Meng, dropped a bombshell on Wednesday, 16 August, accusing the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) of bullying professional players

Lee, who left BAM to become an independent player in January last year, has been training with national players from the association at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur every Wednesday without any issues until recently.

In an Instagram post yesterday, Wong slammed BAM for allegedly introducing a rule that requires professional players to don apparel that feature the logos of the national team's sponsors.

Lee's sponsor is Taiwanese sports equipment brand Victor, while BAM's players are on a five-year sponsorship deal with Japanese brand Yonex since 2021, reported New Straits Times.

Lee Zii Jia (left) and his coach, Wong Tat Meng.

Image via Team LZJ via New Straits Times

"I was really surprised by this rule, considering that it was enforced during preparations for the World Championships," said Lee's coach

"Since December last year, BAM has invited Lee Zii Jia to train with BAM's protégé players every Wednesday, and we are honoured to be able to achieve a win-win situation, which includes helping BAM players improve their (performance) level," he added. 

When BAM insisted on this (rule) while preparing for a big competition, I personally felt like I was being bullied by 'big people'.

The coach, who returned to Malaysia last month after successful coaching stints in South Korea and Hong Kong, said this rule would not only create a sponsorship dispute for Lee, but also for his coaching staff, as well as fitness and physio experts.

"Due to this, we were unable to fulfill the training invitation at ABM (Akademi Badminton Malaysia) before flying to Denmark.

"BAM often says that no matter you are a national player or the professional player, we are all Malaysian players, and the glory is shared. But this rule does not reflect that sentiment," he wrote in a post accompanied by photos of Lee's apparel, which bears the Victor brand logo and Jalur Gemilang.

Wong said he is raising this issue to avoid perceptions that Team LZJ was being uncooperative with BAM

"I hope this matter can be discussed in the future as it would be a loss if the cooperation between BAM and professional players could not continue," he said.

According to New Straits Times, the alleged rule has also upset hardcore badminton fans, who have been extremely critical of the national association in the past.

Besides Lee, other independent shuttlers who were invited to train at ABM since December last year include Kasturi Radhakrishnan, Goh Jin Wei, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, Tan Kian Meng, Lai Pei Jing, Goh Soon Huat, and Shevon Lai, among others, reported Bernama.

Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara.

Image via New Straits Times

In March, Victor ran a digital billboard in Times Square, New York, featuring Lee Zii Jia:

In May, Lee Zii Jia raised concerns about the media constantly criticising him in a Douyin video:

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