Editor’s note: Denmark’s Hans-Kristian Solberg Vittinghus is a former top 10 shuttler, who competed at the recent BWF World Championships in Huelva and reached the third round. Currently ranked No 22 in the world, Vittinghus is among a group of active shuttlers to have spoken up against Badminton Association of Malaysia’s decision to not register two of their shuttlers for international tournaments because they wanted to move away from the national set-up. Here’s a slightly edited version of his Facebook post in support of Lee Zii Jia and Goh Jin Wei, published here with permisision.

Friday was another mind-blowing moment in our sport, and unfortunately not in a good way.

Badminton Association of Malaysia decided to refuse to enter world No 7 and All England champion Lee Zii Jia and women’s singles player Goh Jin Wei to any international tournament for at period of 2 years.

Their crime?

They want to follow their own path. Choose their own coaches, their own training set up, their own tournament schedule, do their own sponsorship deals etc. Basically they want to make a living for themselves playing badminton professionally.

Honestly, how is that a crime?

They haven’t done anything whatsoever to discredit the sport nor their country. They are Malaysians, they are brilliant badminton players, they are great characters and they just want to play badminton. But for two years, they won’t be able to do so, because our rules in the sport allow for this kind of insanity decided by the Malaysian badminton association today.

BWF rules state that all entries must go through your national body. If your national body is refusing to enter you, you’re basically left with three choices.

1) Accept it, give up your passion and find a new job.

2) Move to a different country, live there for 12 months and then start competing again. This is only a possibility if the new country accepts to enter your name to tournaments, which could mean you would be forced to play under this new country’s flag.

3) Take it to the courts.

Either way the player is screwed. There’s a minimum of 12 months of his/her career that will be wasted. And it’s already crazy you can be forced to move away from your home country, just to follow your dreams, because your national body is making full use of a power, that there is no fairness in them possessing.

I’m aware the Malaysian association has nurtured these players since they were young. Paid them, trained them and covered their expenses. But isn’t helping young players and growing the sport exactly the task of a national body? Why does helping the players come with a restriction of the national body deciding if you can even compete in the sport? That’s insane.

If it’s a financial issue, resolve it. Don’t take away the players’ life.

We’ve had some world class Korean players who were in a sort of similar situation recently, who actually succeeded in winning a court case and are now playing under their rightful flag, but they lost out on playing for a long time fighting for this right.

Tell me again, how is this fair? And who does it benefit?

Everyone is losing with these rules. A decision like today is an outright disaster for badminton.

For these players personally it’s obviously a huge blow. But for the sport both globally and in Malaysia it’s a huge loss too. Lee Zii Jia is one of our most marketable athletes. He’s well behaved, he’s competing for the biggest titles in the world and he’s from one of the most important markets for our sport.

We will all miss him for the time he’s out. Just like Goh Jin Wei will be missed. And honestly, it doesn’t matter how good or bad the player is. Why is the federation deciding who gets to enter OPEN tournaments? Then it’s not really an open tournament, is it?

I really, really, really do hope BWF soon realises this is not feasible for the future. National federations can’t hold this kind of power. I know many federation would never use this power to block their own players from competing, but it shouldn’t even be a possibility. These players fully deserve to play badminton. There is not one good argument against it. It makes me furious and I’ll make sure these players know, that we are all with them.

How I’d wish someone with knowledge, power and perhaps money would come and help the players of this sport unite to make a stance against this kind of insanity.

Maybe even by creating a new professional tour.

Here’s the original post by Vittinghus on Facebook: