World No. 7 player Lee Zii Jia (李梓嘉) has caused plenty of ripples recently. On Wednesday (19th January), it was announced that Zii Jia is planning to leave the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
There’s been plenty of talk as to why he’s leaving. Some say it was due to pressure, others claim it was for money, while a few feel BAM is to blame. Well, former legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei (李宗伟) has stepped in to ask BAM and Zii Jia to resolve this amicably and not let it become a big issue.
Zii Jia’s departure has left many fans upset. Some are unhappy with the player while others are criticising BAM. A source alleged that Zii Jia had intention of signing up with a Taiwanese sports equipment company. Word on the street is that Zii Jia was approached with a five-year annual contract worth RM1.674 million. They went on to claim that Zii Jia’s recent performance indicated his intention of leaving BAM.
Additionally, the source was scathing when discussing BAM’s claims that Zii Jia was leaving due to performance pressure. They compared him to Chong Wei, saying, “Unless he can handle the pressure that comes with playing among the top players, it does not matter who he plays with or who he signs up with.” As for whispers of Zii Jia joining the Kuala Lumpur Racket Club (KLRC), the group shut those down immediately. KLRC manager Sairul Amar Ayob told The Vibes they have not discussed anything with Zii Jia, nor were they made aware of the player’s plans.
Datuk Lee Chong Wei has stepped in to urge both BAM and Zii Jia to resolve their supposed feud. Zii Jia’s departure has gone viral, both locally and globally. “I feel that this is not very good for the national badminton squad,” Chong Wei said to Bernama. “I hope this matter can be resolved swiftly and for the focus to return to badminton. Don’t let it become a big issue.”
The former national player acknowledged that BAM has one of the best training infrastructure. Independent players do not have access to such benefits and will have to manage on their own. “But (Zii Jia) must already have his own plans and the most important thing is that it is his decision,” Chong Wei stressed. He added that it was more important for Zii Jia to feel comfortable with performing at the highest level. “But it won’t be easy,” he admitted.
Zii Jia has explained his leaving has nothing to do with money. However, he has opted to wait for BAM’s official announcement today (21st January) before revealing his reasons for doing so. Meanwhile, BAM’s announcement will also reveal if Zii Jia will be banned from playing in tournaments.
Hopefully Zii Jia’s reasons will clear up the issue. Either that, or it will make things worse. We’ll just have to wait and see.