WhatsApp Messages Used As Evidence As 2 M'sian Shuttlers Found Guilty In Match-Fixing Case
Two professional Malaysian badminton players have been found guilty of match-fixing and were handed lengthy suspensions by the Badminton World Federation (BWF)
According to media reports, former junior world champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chun Seang were slapped with a 20 year and a 15 year ban respectively for breaching the BWF Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results.
In what has been described by the media as "career-ending bans", the BWF said in a statement yesterday that the duo will be barred from any involvement in badminton including administrative, coaching, officiating, or developmental functions.
They have also have also been fined USD25,000 (about RM98,100) and USD15,000 (about RM58,900) respectively.
News of two Malaysian shuttlers being involved in match fixing affairs was first exposed by NSTP Sport back in February.
It was learned that the authorities first launched an investigation after a whistleblower came forward to them alleging that he had been approached by Zulfadli at a tournament in Brazil in 2016
Following the hearing of the case which was conducted in Singapore for two days in February 2018, BWF said a three-member independent panel found that 25-year-old Zulfadli committed 27 violations while 31-year-old Tan committed 26 violations.
"The independent panel noted both players 'engaged in corruption offences over a significant period and a significant number of tournaments' dating back to 2013 but that Zulkiffli had 'committed more violations over a longer timeframe than Tan' and had 'been proven to have manipulated the results of four (4) matches'," the world badminton governing body said in a statement.
New Straits Times (NST) reported that WhatsApp conversations between Zulfadli and Tan were the main evidence that exposed their match-fixing activities
NST cited the BWF's independent panel's report which stated that WhatsApp messages, largely in Malay, were extracted from Zulfadli and Tan's phone using a company's service.
"After identifying selected messages, the BWF contracted a company to translate those messages from Malay to English for the purposes of the investigation. They were subsequently split into four separate conversation files, marked as 'Conversation #1', 'Conversation #2', “Conversation #3', and 'Conversation #4'," read the report, according to NST.
NSTP Sport has since reproduced one of the conversations based on the report in a graphic image.
In another development, Zulfadli said that he wants to tell his side of the story
When contacted by members of the media, Zulfadli said that he was trying to recover from shock for the time being, but added that he would call for a press conference in "a day or two" so that the public will know what had happened.
Responding in a series of WhatsApp messages, the independent shuttler also appeared to question if he was a victim or accused.
"Unfortunately, BWF has no power to impose a sentence of death, if not I'm sure they would have decided on that option. Give me some time and I'll hold a media conference, #victim or accused?!" he said in a WhatsApp text message, as reported by Berita Harian.
Meanwhile, according to BWF, Zulfadli and Tan have the right to appeal under Clause 14 of the BWF Judicial Procedures.