BWF scoring system change fails to go through

A majority at the BWF Annual General Meeting voted for the 5×11-point scoring system proposal but without a 2/3 majority, the current 21-point system is here to stay. By Don […]

A majority at the Annual General Meeting voted for the 5×11-point system proposal but without a 2/3 majority, the current 21-point system is here to stay.

By Don Hearn.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

The Badminton World Federation (BWF) held its Annual General Meeting yesterday on the eve of the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok.  Several key proposals by the BWF Council were voted on but the one that promised to have the biggest impact did not pass muster as only 129 out of 252 votes were in favour of shortening international badminton matches to a best of five games to 11 points.  A two-thirds majority, or 168 votes, would have been necessary to approve implementation of this plan, which would have reduced match length by approximately 20%.

“Our membership has spoken and we respect its decision to retain three games to 21 points, though clearly our proposal resonated with a significant section of our membership,” said BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer (pictured right).

“Many opinions were expressed from the heart today and it was obvious this was a fundamental matter which delegates deliberated thoughtfully and thoroughly – and I thank them for their diligence.”

Although the result is that the present 3×21-point system will remain intact, this system is one that was endorsed by only 123 of the 252 voters at the BWF AGM.  However, how the proposal would have fared in a referendum of badminton fans or of active elite badminton players is another matter, but one that is now moot.  Badzine did run a poll in 2014, after the BWF floated 3 other scoring system change proposals.  After Badzine readers overwhelmingly voted in favour of keeping the current system, the BWF Council, which ran its own poll but did not publicize the results, proposed a new system of 5×11 with no extra points and tried that system, which was not put to a fan poll, in several low-level tournaments in late 2014.

Starting in 2015, the BWF began testing the system that was voted on yesterday, starting with the 2015 Romania International and winding up with the Russia Open Grand Prix last summer.  The Russian Open was the biggest tournament at which the system was tested, along with the 2016 Chinese Taipei Masters and the 2017 China International Challenge, which offered fewer ranking points but similar prize money to the two Grand Prix events.  Neither Badzine nor the BWF ran a poll to gauge fan response to each iteration of the scoring system change proposals, which would have involved three polls in less than one year, including 4 systems that were never tested.

Fixed height rules rule

In contrast, the BWF AGM did see significant support for the change to the new fixed service height rules.  This proposal did achieve a two-thirds majority, with 177 votes out of 222 votes and will soon become law.  Unlike the proposed scoring system change, the fixed height rule for service was tested at the some of the highest-level tournaments, from the All England to the continental championships in Europe and Asia.  It too was controversial prior to testing and prompted negative reactions from many players, in addition to being soundly denounced in a poll of Badzine readers.  While less than 20% of respondents expressed support for the new service regulations, even fewer thought that no change was needed with service judging, making it an issue quite unlike the scoring system.

A BWF press release said that because of the voting results, “Council has been given a mandate to further experiment with variations of the system up until 10 December. Thereafter, no further changes can be made.”

Don Hearn

About Don Hearn

Don Hearn is an Editor and Correspondent who hails from a badminton-loving town in rural Canada. He joined the Badzine team in 2006 to provide coverage of the Korean badminton scene and is committed to helping Badzine to promote badminton to the place it deserves as a global sport. Contact him at: don @