Civil Court overturns dismissal of female badminton champion from national team

Female badminton champion Neela Ahmed Najeeb has won the right to be reinstated in the national badminton team, after the Civil Court yesterday overturned the Badminton Association’s termination of Najeeb.

Chief Judge of the Civil Court Ali Sameer ruled that the Association’s termination of Najeeb on May 20, 2009, was against the Association’s own regulations, and ordered it to reinstate her within seven days.

Najeeb, formerly the only female badminton player on the national team, holds a string of championship medals and has competed in several international competitions. The 25 year-old was suspended from playing last year after clashing with her Indonesian coach, whom she alleged attempted to make her run for four hours as punishment for missing a training session – something she was physically unable to do at the time.

Najeeb and her lawyer Mizna Shareef of Shah, Hussein & Co, contended in court that Najeeb’s suspension contradicted the termination procedure of the Constitution of the Badminton Association, as she was not given a chance to defend herself.

“I think this must be personal – this is not what you do to an athlete. You don’t just terminate them,” Najeeb told Minivan News, in an earlier interview. “I think Maldivian players deserve better. If you have a problem with a coach, [sporting associations] are supposed to advise you – but the Badminton Association takes everything personally.”

Prior to her termination, Najeeb had been selected to travel to Greece on June 10, 2010 for a youth training session conducted by the International Olympic Committee, however this was scuttled by her dismissal as endorsement from the Association was required.

“Our argument was that Neela’s termination contravened the Association’s constitution,” Najeeb’s lawyer Shareef said today. “They argued that Neela was not terminated but suspended, following a meeting in October. But we have letter from May saying she was terminated – you can’t suspend someone you’ve already terminated, and the court saw right through it.”

Shareef speculated that Najeeb’s case could be the first time a Maldivian athlete has successful contested a case against a sporting association.

President of the Badminton Association Ali Amir said he was unable to comment on the outcome of the case as he had yet to be informed of it.

Najeeb meanwhile said she was looking forward to competing in the Maldives International Challenge in June.

“I think things will be different from now on. I want to get back to the Association and see my next target,” she said.