KUALA LUMPUR: “You can disrespect me. But please don’t disrespect my flag.”
This was the stern rebuke national badminton player Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin had for Danish player Jan O Jorgensen, following their encounter at the China Open on Saturday.
Jorgensen beat Iskandar 20-22, 22-20, 7-21 in their semifinal encounter. However, that wasn’t the main takeaway from the match.
It has emerged that at the mid-game interval in their third game, as the players changed ends in the court, Iskandar appeared to have forgotten to take his jersey in the players’ kit box.
Instead of calling out to Iskandar to remind him, Jorgensen, who was about to use the kit box, appeared to pick up Iskandar’s jersey and threw it across.
Iskandar’s coach calmly picked up the jersey, which had the Jalur Gemilang emblazoned on it, from the floor.
Jorgensen, 27, also called Iskandar ‘Lee Chong Wei’, which some have construed as mocking Iskandar.
Iskandar, whom badminton ace Lee Chong Wei had dubbed as the ‘next big thing’, was reportedly less than impressed with Jorgensen over his antics.
“My jersey has the Malaysian national flag. I don’t have a problem if you want to disrespect me. But please respect the Jalur Gemilang on my shirt,” he was quoted as saying.
Jorgensen eventually went on to win the title, beating China’s Chen Long, but earned the ire of badminton fans for his un-sportsmanlike behaviour.
Badminton fans, not just Malaysians but also those from other countries, left messages on Jorgensen’s social media accounts, taking him to task.
“Disrespectful. Bad attitude. Disgraceful. No sportsmanship,” summed up one commenter on the shuttler’s Instagram account.
“My respect for you suddenly dropped. He (Iskandar) might have been your opponent, but surely he wasn't your enemy,” wrote one commenter on Jorgensen’s Instagram account.
Another commenter wrote: “You are rude, Jorgensen. How can you do that to Iskandar? Maybe he isn’t as good as LCW but as a player you must respect your opponent..if you don’t respect the player, please respect the flag on their shirt. Do not throw it, give it back politely.”
Meanwhile, Jorgensen, on his Facebook account, apologised to Malaysians for the incident.
“I’m sorry to all the Malaysians I have offended by throwing Iskandar’s shirt. Not my meaning to be disrespectful. I did say "LCW" to my coaches, that’s a same pattern they have. Not to Iskandar - I have a lot respect for him,” he wrote.