At its meeting in New Delhi last week, the BWF Council unanimously approved this season-ending jackpot as part of a Player Incentive Scheme for athletes in the Top 10 of the BWF Destination Dubai Rankings. It also includes medical exemptions and protected rankings for these elite competitors in each discipline.
Singles players stand to take home between US$12,000 (for the No.1 players) and US$ 3,000 (players ranked 8 to 10) while doubles pairs can split between US$16,000 (for the No. 1 pairs) and US$4,000 (pairs ranked 8 to 10). These pay-outs will be based on the fulfilment of enhanced media and sponsorship obligations throughout the season, as updated in the BWF Players’ Code of Conduct – including pre-tournament publicity events, press conferences, various interviews, photo opportunities, autograph sessions and BWF special events/awards ceremonies. Another requirement is attendance at educational activities scheduled by BWF.
Not participating in mandatory World Superseries tournaments (Superseries Premier events) for any reason or failure to fulfil any of these obligations will result in various deductions from a player or pair’s bonus. BWF Destination Dubai Rankings at the end of the year will determine which players split the money.
“Players are the main attraction in our sport and we want to reward them for contributing to the success of the World Superseries; not only through playing and winning matches but also through engaging with the media, fans and sponsors – all of which are critical elements of promoting professional sports,” outlined BWF President Poul-Erik Høyer (right).
Noting the BWF Destination Dubai Rankings will fluctuate according to players’ on-court fortunes, he said the bonus could also provide additional impetus for those who are currently hovering outside the Top 10 to strive for better results.
“We have seen how rankings change over a year and, with the many talented players in each category, many different players and pairs can end up in the Top 10. It should add to the excitement in the rankings as we move closer to our first Superseries Finals in Dubai.”
The Player Incentive Scheme also allows Top 10 competitors to benefit from a protected ranking if his/her career is briefly derailed due to injury or any unavoidable circumstance. Players in the Top 10 may claim this once every two years and, under a protected ranking, the player will be exempt from the mandatory tournament participation rules but will also not be eligible for bonus that year. A protected ranking can be granted for the maximum of a year.
“Yes, we are asking more of players but, at the same time, BWF is creating incentives for players and trying to protect them so they can rest and recuperate appropriately if they get a serious injuries,” said Høyer.
Another important decision taken was to revert to the qualifying system for the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals in 2016, instead of the current system of using team rankings to determine the 16 teams for the Finals. This was done as the Continental Confederations felt that qualifying for the Thomas & Uber Cup Finals through the continental championships has proven valuable preparation for their players.
The Council has also boosted prize money for tournaments below Grand Prix Gold level, with incremental increases approved from 2016. International Challenge events will see a hike from US$15,000 in 2014 to US$17,500 in 2016 and US$25,000 in 2018, while prize money for International Series tournaments moves from US$5,000 in 2014 to US$ 6,000 in 2016 and US$10,000 in 2018.
Reflecting on the two weeks in India, during which the Li-Ning BWF Thomas & Uber Cup Finals, the BWF Member’s Forum and Annual General Meeting were held, the BWF President said: “It was a good occasion for our membership to come together and reflect on our positive strides and to chart our future as a world-governing body. It was a very fruitful session.”