Oldie but nonetheless still interesting article that I bumped into yesterday :
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sun, 07/11/1999 7:01 AM |
JAKARTA (JP): Modern sports is inevitably tied to the sponsors who pay prize money, support events and make household names around the world of stars. Anyone who has opened up a magazine in the last five years is likely to think of Nike and its association with flamboyant tennis player Andre Agassi, who has been on the company's payroll since he took his first stepsin professional tennis. But the marriage of marketing and sports has yet to start its honeymoon in Indonesia. Most sports, with the exception of soccer and basketball, come up short on the hard sell of their marketability. Most notable in missing the sponsorship bandwagon is badminton, the thirdmost popular sport in the country and the only one in which Indonesia has consistently excelled internationally.
In the last 40 years, Indonesia has produced a slew of world-class players of both sexes, from Ferry Sonneville and Tan Joe Hock in the 1950s,Rudy Hartono, Minarni, Christian Hadinata, Liem Swie King in the 1960s and 1970s, through Verawaty Fadjrin, Ivana Lie, Icuk Sugiarto, Alan Budikusuma,Hariyanto Arbi, Susi Susanti and Hendrawan in the 1980s and today. Although it has suffered some setbacks in recent years, particularly withthe retirement of Susi and the erratic form of Mia Audina on the women's side, Indonesia remains one of the game's powerhouses. But this has not panned out into lucrative sponsorships. The Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI) adopted a collective sponsorship system in the late 1980s, with players admitted to the National Training Center in Cipayung, East Jakarta, receiving a stipend and their winnings pooled. PBSI vice chairman Agus Wirahadikusumah told The Jakarta Post that all shuttlers in the country were still semiprofessional. "In the future, they must become totally professional. This is their mainjob to guarantee that they can live well in their old age." PBSI is seeking to boost shuttlers' professionalism by dividing them intotwo categories of full professionals and semiprofessionals at the training center. "The purpose is to subsidize newcomers, who still need financial support from their professional seniors," he said. PBSI signed a four-year renewable contract with Japanese sports equipmentgiant Yonex on Nov. 1, 1996. In the first and second years, PBSI received US$1 million annual contract fees, according to a copy of the contract obtained by the Post. In the third and fourth years, the fee increases to $1.2 million. Fifty percent of the contract payments is for the shuttlers and the rest for PBSI, which takes 35 percent and divides the remainder with PBSI provincial, regional and mayoralty chapters and clubs. All 15 coaches receive $75,000 per year.
The collective contract system needs to be revised, Agus said, but he added that PBSI lacked strong bargaining power in dealing with Yonex. "We can only complain if there are discrepancies in the contract application. The sponsor doesn't have any competitors due to the poor economic situation in the country," he said. PBSI secretary-general Leo Chandra Wiranata said Yonex was alone among sports equipment companies wanting to sponsor badminton. "Yonex wants to monopolize the deal because they have given everything tofulfill our athletes needs. The same type of contracts also are found in China and South Korea." "Our shuttlers can get another sponsor as long as it's more than $600,000 for all athletes per year. If they only get individual sponsorships from smaller companies, they must ask permission from Yonex," he said. Leo argued that the collective system enabled PBSI to control the sponsorships among the shuttlers. "Shuttlers will not be deceived by small companies with bad intentions, and potential athletes, who have yet to earn their own prize money, also can get funds from the contract although in small amounts." Some shuttlers were unhappy about the collective sponsorship system. Several contacted by the Post said they did not have any copies of the contract. "Officials only tell us the main points of the contract without giving uscopies of the agreement. If we want to get another sponsorship, we have to tell both PBSI and Yonex. And if Yonex disagrees, then we can't get another contract, even if the amount is smaller", said a player who requested anonymity. Another shuttler complained that PBSI and Yonex always urged shuttlers towear Yonex T-shirts during practice. "But they only give limited amounts and that forces us to wear our own T-shirts. Sometimes, when our rackets were broken, Yonex didn't give us the spares. But, still we are not allowed to use other brand rackets." A senior player added: "Sometimes, Yonex hands over the contract money later than scheduled. But I don't know if the one who is late is Yonex or PBSI." Another singles player urged PBSI officials to be more active in seeking sponsors. "I think the officials are too dependent on Yonex and they are afraid Yonex may cut the contract. I also heard that some officials always ask for' personal fees'," the shuttler said.
A veteran shuttler said players should be involved in contract discussions because they were the draw for the sponsor. "PBSI gets the contract because of us. We must know what is in the contract. For instance, PBSI officials said the Thomas Cup bonus was canceled without any notification. Don't blame us if we want to get other sponsors if they are cheating us," the player complained. Indonesia's victorious Thomas Cup team should have received a $60,000 cash bonus from Yonex last year, according to the contract. Agus agreed that PBSI must have professional business management in the future. "The management must deal with all sponsors and it must be able to createa profit-centered market. I saw that in Copenhagen during the Sudirman Cup and World Championships," he said. During the events, the line of autograph hunters was 10 meters long. Each fan bought a postcard with their idols' pictures. "That was only a simple example but why has it never worked here? PBSI must be able to sell its athletes in the future. They are national assets but we can't sell them. That's quite a pity." Several top international players, including Danish men's world number one Peter Gade Christensen and his compatriot 1996 Olympic champion Poul-Erik Hoyer-Larsen, are also contracted to Yonex, but also have entered into agreements with nonsports equipment companies, like telecommunications firm Teledanmark. PBSI signed a contract with PT General Motors Buana Indonesia, the producer of Opel cars in Indonesia, in 1995. The contract ended after two years, but the shuttlers interviewed said they never received any payment from the agreement, which included a requirement for them to wear Opel patches on their clothing. The economic turmoil of the past two years is often blamed for Indonesia's sagging badminton fortunes. Still, after Indonesia failed to have one player reach the semifinals in the World Championships, it may be time for the officials to start taking responsibility for what ails the country's most famous sport. Creating a system which pleases both PBSI and its players, and winning over new sponsors, could be the recipe for more badminton victories.