Fri, 01 Dec 2000

Icuk asks PBSI to improve sponsorship agreement

JAKARTA (JP): Former world badminton champion Icuk Sugiarto called on the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) to improve its performance in raising funds for athletes.

"When shuttlers start to talk about their money, suddenly PBSI doesn't seem to have any money at all. It is a sign of their poor performance," he said at his residence.

"In its contract with Japanese sports equipment producer Yonex, PBSI has limited other companies in becoming cosponsors by demanding a very high price for the collective sponsorships."

Icuk was responding to demands by Olympic gold medalists Candra Wijaya and Tony Gunawan that PBSI allow shuttlers to sign individual sponsorships.

But PBSI secretary-general Leo Chandra Wiranata has rejected this possibility, saying the current collective sponsorship remained the best option for the shuttlers.

The memorandum of understanding between PBSI and Yonex says other companies are allowed to become cosponsors only if they are willing to offer a minimum three-year contract valued at US$300,000. Yonex pays $1 million per year to PBSI.

Icuk said elite players in the country would have no difficulties signing individual sponsorship deals. However, PBSI and the players should also consider their teammates at the Indonesian Badminton Center, he said.

"Only about 25 percent of our elite players would get individual sponsorships. The reason PBSI opted for the collective (sponsorship) system is because they also want to share the money with the other 75 percent," said Icuk, who is in charge of talent scouting at PBSI.

Citing an example, Icuk said he personally had a sponsorship offer of $300,000 per year with Yonex in 1987. But PBSI canceled his contract, saying its policy forbade players from seeking individual sponsorships.

"With so many stars now, including Candra and Tony, and Taufik Hidayat and Hendrawan in the singles, I believe they could get a similar amount or perhaps more than I was offered 13 years ago," Icuk said.

Taufik has been offered a contract to endorse Japan's electronic equipment producer JVC. But he is not allowed to put the JVC logo on his shirt because the contract is not worth $300,000.

Icuk also criticized the PBSI policy, saying collective sponsorships also closed the door on clubs trying to raise funds.

"I experience it myself with ex-club Pelita Bakrie, which was disbanded several years ago. I signed a contract with Pro-Ace but when my players were called up to the Indonesian Badminton Center, they had to use Yonex instead of their own sponsors. This system leads to people not wishing to sign contracts with PBSI."

Icuk urged PBSI to give a bigger role to clubs by allowing them to become the athletes' business manager in seeking sponsors.

"Clubs have the athletes, not PBSI. It is clubs who must find sponsors. When they already get the sponsors, PBSI only follows up by preparing the paperwork and receiving the money. But the majority of the money should go to the players and clubs."

Currently, players receive 50 percent of the money from sponsorship contracts, with the remaining half going to PBSI. PBSI then gives 5 percent to its provincial chapters and 5 percent to clubs.

"Ideally, clubs would receive an equal amount as the players, and PBSI would only get a commission from the deal," Icuk said.

He said a number of large clubs had folded because they never received anything in return for supplying players to the training center.

"We spend at least Rp 300 million ($31,600) per year to develop athletes. When they are sent to the center, we get a big nothing. PBSI should compensate the clubs."

Icuk said he would bring the problem to next year's congress of the PBSI Jakarta chapter, before taking the issue to PBSI's national plenary congress in December 2001. (yan)