Poul-Erik Hoyer is more than just the President of Badminton World Federation. As a former player and Olympic gold medallist, he represents not just the official face of badminton, but the aspirations of players worldwide. Excerpts from an interview:
What is the progress on using technology for line calls? BWF was close to adopting it but seems to have shelved it for now.
It’s still on. We’re testing it over the next five months, before incorporating it in bigger events. The consistency of the product was an issue. I think it’s a good system to have Hawk Eye. But the system should not jeopardize badminton matches.
What did you think of the Indian Badminton League? Would you foresee a time when BWF would have to monitor leagues worldwide to avoid possible controversies?
The IBL was good for India. I’m open to new ideas. They tried out a shortened scoring format, and it was interesting. It was new to have a third game for 11 points. Badminton is in a competition with other sports. Other sports too are developing very fast. I saw the squash presentation at the IOC session – it was brilliant. There have been leagues in Denmark, India, China and Indonesia… I don’t think we have thought of monitoring them. Of course, when they schedule it, it must not clash with the regular circuit. There are a lot of tournaments now, and the leagues will need to ensure players’ participation to international events is not affected.
Jwala Gutta was recently banned by the Badminton Association of India, which withdrew her entry to the Denmark Open. With the sport becoming professional, don’t you think players should be able to send their entries directly, instead of through federations?
We are not yet a completely professional set-up. Countries are regarded as the rightful partners. That is the way it has been. One of the reasons is that the money in the sport is not good enough to transition to professionalism, which means players need support of national associations. I think we need the same system to continue.
The top players are able to make money, but is BWF concerned about the lesser-ranked players who don’t make enough money to make a living through badminton?
Here in Denmark, players are supported to some extent by the government. Some players in other countries are struggling and fighting with whatever they have. Players from No.16 to 32 in the Superseries are not earning enough. We’re increasing the prize money by 40 percent over the next few years.
Despite the strong stance of BWF towards ‘match throwing’ in the Olympics, we have seen instances of players either withdrawing or retiring without apparent injuries.
The incident at the Olympics was very obvious. We have a Disciplinary Committee that deals with this issue. Any incident that comes to light is referred to the committee. Having said that, we must also ensure we don’t act against athletes who genuinely suffer injuries. As long as the player is cleared by the BWF-appointed doctor, we see no reason to act against him or her.