BKA fires coaches by text message, loses sponsor

The Badminton Korea Association (BKA) terminated its coaching staff this week by text message and has had its own contract with its equipment sponsor unilaterally cancelled, according to reports in […]

The (BKA) terminated its coaching staff this week by text message and has had its own contract with its equipment unilaterally cancelled, according to reports in the Korean media this week.

Korea’s Donga Ilbo reported on Thursday that the BKA sent text messages to the Korean coaching staff – most of whom are on location with the national team players overseas – saying that their contracts would be terminated as of November 23rd.  The article goes on to say that BKA President Park Ki Hyun had demanded the 7 coaches’ resignations immediately after the Asian Games but said that the coaches, whose contracts ran to the end of October, heard nothing more until the messages arrived this past week.  All but 2 of the 7 are currently in Fuzhou for the China Open, while Kim Ji Hyun is accompanying a small contingent at two International Series events in Europe until next week.

The Donga article explains that the coaches knew there would be a performance review after the Asian Games but said that the actual termination scheduling following the requested resignations was affected by the entry deadlines of the string of international tournaments this autumn.  Interestingly, the Donga article suggests that it was the current coaching staff who pushed for inclusion of most experienced players in the Asian Games contingent, with the participation of veterans such as Lee Hyun Il and Lee Yong Dae being rejected by the BKA because of  conflicts with the official team sponsor.  However, a report the same day from the Yonhap News Agency and another in the Hankyoreh Shinmun, report that current Head Kang Kyung Jin was pushing for the long-term strategy that involved giving inexperienced players an opportunity in Jakarta, a strategy that worked at last year’s Sudirman Cup but that produced no medals at the Asian Games, with the latter receiving far more local media attention.

Incidentally, all three outlets reported that Taiwan-based Victor, which has sponsored the Korean national team since early 2009, is cancelling its contract with the BKA because of the Korean team’s flagging results.  In February, 2017, Victor renewed its contract with the BKA to run to February 28th, 2021 but the early cancellation means that the BKA-Victor relationship will not hit the 10-year mark.  Indeed, even the Korea Masters Super 300 tournament set to kick off on November 27th is slowly seeing the equipment manufacturer’s name gradually being removed.  The event’s official Korean-language website calls the event the ‘Gwangju Korea Masters’.  While all documents available from the BWF, and some on the BKA website, still call it the ‘Victor Korea Masters 2018’, one BKA page actually reads ‘2018 Gwangju tor[sic] Korea Masters International Badminton Championships’.  At the time of writing, the BKA still lists the company as its national team sponsor and the company’s websites in Korean, English, and Chinese include Korea as a sponsored team.

The coaching staff termination news has left the Korean teams in turmoil as they follow the unfolding events from overseas, according to the Korean dailies.  The Korean players themselves, meanwhile, continue to soldier on, with Korean women’s doubles pairs making up half the China Open draw in the quarter-final, semi-final, and final stage.  Over in Canada, Korea’s junior team will contest the World Junior Championship mixed team final for the first time since they won the title back in 2013.

Yonhap explains that advertising to fill the remaining coaching positions will take place after the Head Coach position is filled.  The application period for the latter runs until next Friday and a BKA Council meeting the following week.  The new coaching staff needs to be in place before the national team selection process begins on December 18th.

Photos: Yves Lacroix / Badmintonphoto

Use the following links to find the original articles (in Korean) from the websites of the Donga Ilbo, Yonhap News Agency, and the Hankyoreh Shinmun

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 @ badzine.net