The BWF's diktat that women players must wear skirts has flared up into a controversy

There's no ‘skirting' the issue ever since the Badminton World Federation, in April, unveiled its controversial diktat that women players must wear skirts in major international tournaments like the Grand Prix and other Super Series events. Imposing rules on what is essentially a personal choice has put the BWF on the back foot.

The BWF officials stated that “the decision to ask women players to shun shorts and wear only skirts is to make the game appealing (sic) and to ensure a pretty presentation of the game”.

The new ruling further stated that women players who prefer to wear shorts can do so, but they should wear a skirt over it.

This move is seen as an attempt to glamorise badminton a la tennis, where all tennis divas like Maria Sharapova or Serene Willamssport designer skirts, which become hot topics of discussion among fans and commentators.

Even back in the 1960s mini skirts made waves on the court side.

World divided

However, the outrageous move has now hit a roadblock with fierce opposition from the world badminton powers, including China, India, Indonesia and Malaysia. The players preferred to dub the decision as ‘sexist'.

‘No reservations'

In fact, the ruling succeeded in splitting women players down the middle; players from Europe said they had no reservations on the issue while those from China and India opposed it.

In Malaysia, an Islamic party called for boycott of badminton tournaments.

The BWF was very much on the defensive in the light of swift and strong reactions to its move.

The rule, which was to come into force on May 1 was postponed to June and now the badminton's big bosses have decided to shelve the issue “indefinitely”, till a broad consensus emerges.

Indian shuttle idol Saina Nehwal capped it well when she quipped: “What counts is the skill and not the skirt. It makes no difference to me.”

Keywords: Saina Nehwal

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Match PointJanuary 13, 2011