Jwala Gutta was purchased by Delhi Smashers for $31,000 in the IBL auction. (Express photo)
The spunky Jwala Gutta feels the Badminton Association of India (BAI) and the Indian Badminton League (IBL) have deceived her during the auction in New Delhi on Monday. Jwala and Ashwini Ponnappa were the two doubles specialists, who were categorized as icons of the inaugural IBL along with singles players Lee Chong Wei, Saina Nehwal, Parupalli Kashyap and PV Sindhu. Whereas the singles players had a base price of $50,000, Jwala and Ashwini were attached a meagre tag of $25,000.
"I don't know how to react. I feel I was betrayed. We have been misled, as usual. There is nothing new what I have been saying. But I thought IBL would be something different, as we have been comparing it with cricket's IPL. But it looks the same," said a peeved Jwala, who was eventually purchased by Delhi Smashers for $31,000. Ashwini was netted in for only $25,000 by Pune Pistons. Excerpts of an interview:
On doubles events, particularly women's, getting a raw deal
Whether women's doubles is there or not, it is not our concern. That was IBL's decision. I'm a good mixed doubles player. But it will be ridiculous that with women's doubles not there, my price should be reduced or slashed by half (from $50,000 to $25,000). That is not our problem. It is out-and-out lying and cheating. We came to know about this development only after the auction had started. I was not informed. At least if they had informed me earlier, then I'd be ready for it. They just said nobody wants to take you. That is really ridiculous. We have been promoting IBL and I have been promoting the tournament. I'm an icon player and coming out with this theory is stupid.
On whether she spoke to the BAI chief
I have not spoken to BAI president Akhilesh Dasgupta. But I would like to know what happened. Nobody wants to take the responsibility. They are not saying that they have harmed the sport. Are we (myself and Ashwini) not worth $50,000? We have done enough for the country and if they are treating us this way, they will also treat other players this way in future also. Both Ashwini and me are bronze medallists in World Championship.
On wrong advices to franchises
Whether women's doubles is there or not, it doesn't matter. Everyone is playing in one tournament, whether it's Saina (Nehwal), Kashyap or Jwala. They even told me that world number three doubles player Mathias Boe of Denmark went unsold. I wonder what these advisers are doing for the franchises. I'm sure the franchises do not know much about badminton since they are guided by the advisers.
On how she is looks at the tournament
I'm still happy with Krish's team and looking forward to the tournament. It has been a habit and I know how to fight it out, and my territory to fight is only on court. It is sports that is harmed. It is nothing personal. I'm always serious and I have been training for a long time. I'm much fitter now, in fact much fitter than I was before the Olympics. I'm sure I will do well.