Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, admitted it could have been worse for the two independent shuttlers, who were found guilty of breaching the BWF's Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results. (NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR)

KUALA LUMPUR: The BA of Malaysia (BAM) believe that the 20-year and 15-year bans handed out to shuttlers Zulfadli Zulkiffli and Tan Chun Seang respectively by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for match-fixing is reasonable.

In a press conference at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) on Wednesday, BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria, admitted it could have been worse for the two independent shuttlers, who were found guilty of breaching the BWF's Code of Conduct in Relation to Betting, Wagering and Irregular Match Results.

"We did discuss about it at the BAM Rules and Disciplinary committee level, and we feel that based on the violation, the BWF have given these two players a reasonable and appropriate sentence.

"It could have been worse, they could have been banned for life. I hope that this case will serve as a very good lesson for players and whoever out there, that this is what you will get for getting involved in such disgraceful activities," said Norza.

In a statement released by the world governing body, both players were also slapped with a US$25,000 (RM98,000) and US$15,000 (RM59,000) fines.

Apart from tournaments, Zulfadli, a former world junior champion, and Chun Seang are banned from any activities in the sport, which include administrative, coaching, officiating or developmental functions.

"I must admit, it is indeed a sad and shocking day for Malaysian badminton to know that a sport so close to our hearts had been tainted by match-fixing. If before, we only read about match manipulation in other sports, now this unsavoury practice has reached our shores.

"When our players take to the courts, regardless of whether they are BAM's players or not, the entire nation gets behind them. Malaysians, the government and our sponsors support us, all believing in the beauty and integrity of the game.

“To fix or manipulate a match is to cheat the fans, and organisations who support badminton.

"It is therefore, our utmost priority to fight against match manipulation and to keep our game clean. The game must be safeguarded from those who seek to profit from it by criminal means.

"We have been working closely with the BWF and MACC (Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to fight this cancer. We have introduced the whistle-blower policy and with that, we now have an appropriate system of rules to protect the game, and at the same time to ensure that those who do not play by the rules are appropriately sanctioned.

"BAM have always had zero tolerance against match-fixing, doping and corruption. We remain committed to eradicate the manipulation of badminton matches, and with the involvement of all other stakeholders, we are convinced that we will win this battle," added Norza.

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