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Thursday, March 5, 2015 (read 2561 times)

Trouble in Badminton Paradise

by David

Spain is living a magical moment with regard to sports. Not counting last year's soccer and basketball World Cups, Spanish sport has been surging with momentum thanks to victories in variety of sports like swimming, gymnastics, handball and water polo.  While these results are excellent, they are not too surprising since Spain has been advancing in the rankings of these sports the past years and in some cases they have already had great results such as Mireia Belmonte in swimming.

But one sport that has really taken off is Badminton. In August of 2014, with only 21 years of age, Carolina Marín did the unthinkable—she beat an adversary from powerhouse China to become the first Spaniard to win badminton World Championship title. This rise to fame has meant she has received a windfall of sponsorships and opportunities to profit, like any other athlete, from her well earned sporting achievements. But the reality of her situation has changed completely since the Spanish Badminton Federation wants to profit from Carolina's image and will deny her the opportunity to play any longer on the national team if she does not cede the rights to her image.

Badminton is a relatively young sport, first being played in an organized manner in the region of Galicia at the beginning of the 1970's while the first Spanish championship was held in 1982. Spain's trajectory in the world of Badminton has been consistent with one would expect from a country with relatively new players, especially if you compare Spain to China, the country that has dominated world badminton since the beginning of world championship play in 70's. Other countries that have earned gold medals have been Korea, Denmark (the European powerhouse), and Indonesia. Other countries that have also earned gold—but not as consistently as these other countries—have been the US, Sweden and England, among others. In world badminton, only 20 countries have earned a bronze medal or better.

This sport, largely unknown in Spain, has suddenly been cast in the spotlight thanks to Carolina's amazing win and her attractive and easy going manner. Largely unknown in Spain, Carolina is face that people recognize in Asian countries thanks to her presence as a professional player in the Indian league as well as receiving media coverage across the continent where this sport is played and followed by millions of people. This promising athlete coming off of the greatest win of her and Spain's time badminton also promised an excellent result in the upcoming European Badminton Championships in which Spain had classified for the first time ever in mixed doubles.

Unfortunately all of this promise may not come to fruition since the Spanish Badminton Federation will sit down any player that does not sign over their image and publicity rights. At the moment the federation will not call up 7 of Spain's best badminton players, including their best one—Carolina Marín. What's more, the federation will withdraw from their first ever mixed doubles appearance in the European Championships because the players refuse to give in to this type of blackmail.

David Cabello is the genius behind this quick cash marketing scheme, he is also the head of the Spanish badminton federation. In a recent meeting between the federation and the athletes which was mediated by national sports commissioner, Cabello was shocked that these athletes would arrive with a lawyer in tow. It was in this meeting that one reason behind the insistence of the federation behind such one sided deal is succulent new sponsorship deal with a large company whose objective is to use Carolina Marín as their image to break into the Asian market.

With the athletes having already lost the opportunity to compete in the European championships, both sides have agreed to sit down and try to work out a compromise that benefits both the federation and the athletes. But one thing is clear, the athletes have lost all confidence in their president and as such it will be hard for him to continue in his post. Which isn't such a bad thing for person like that.

Keywords: sports in spain,mireia belmonte,spanish athletes,carolina marin,badminton players,best badminton players

Posted In: Spain


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