Tom Bacher

Tom Bacher
Born: 16 November, 1941 Died: 04 October, 2017

Tom Bacher has been one of Denmark’s leading figures in badminton ever since his playing days. Player, coach, selector, team manager, umpire, administrator. Bacher has done it all.

The highlight of his career as a player came in 1970 when he and Poul Petersen won the All England men’s doubles title.

He went on to umpire and referee at World Championships and is well remembered for being in the umpire’s chair for the deciding match in the 1967 Thomas Cup final in Jakarta when a riot broke out in the stands.

He became a driving force at Badminton Europe and an influential figure within the BWF.

IBF and BWF Career

1979: Elected to Council

1982: Executive Board member

1982-1992: Chairman of the Open Badminton Committee

1987-2003: Vice President

1987-95: Deputy chair of Council

2000-2003: Vice President

2002-2003: Deputy chair of Council

2008: Herbert Scheele Trophy for outstanding and exceptional contribution to badminton

2009: Honorary Life Vice President

Badminton Europe

1978-79: Chairman of Court Officials Committee


2015: Honorary Life Vice President

Badminton Denmark

1973-81:Selector and team manager


2002-2010: Member of the Board of Governors of the International Masters Games Association

Tom Bacher has often been described as the best President the BWF never had. He devoted 24 years of his career to serving the IBF Council and this included being right-hand man to three Presidents during his time as a Vice President from 1987- 2003.

Bacher, who was born in Copenhagen in 1941, initially made his mark as runner-up in the Danish National men’s singles.

But it was as a doubles player that he enjoyed most success, winning numerous international titles on the European circuit before producing the big win of his career by partnering Poul Petersen to the 1970 All England men’s doubles title when the unseeded Danish pair defeated the England favourites David Eddy and Roger Powell 15-11 15-0.

The result was so amazing that the Denmark Radio commentator almost lost his voice in the excitement and BWF and Badminton Europe stalwart Torsten Berg shared that excitement. He said: “I listened on a car radio outside a sports hall when waiting to play the final of a men’s doubles in a provincial tournament in Vordingborg, with Poul Boyer (later Denmark team manager) against two very young boys, Steen Skovgaard and Gert Hansen (We lost!).”

Bacher also played three times for Denmark in the Thomas Cup, winning the European Zone final and reaching the finals in 1967, 1970 and 1973.

By this time he was also training as both an umpire and a coach at the Greve Badminton Club in Copenhagen. Players like Anne Berglund, an All England runner-up in 1971 at just 18, and 1988 and 1990 European women’s doubles winner Dorthe Kjaer owe their early successes to Tom’s coaching.

He also made his mark as a court official, umpiring and refereeing at World Championships. But he will always be remembered for the 1967 Thomas Cup final in Jakarta when he was the umpire in the deciding match between holders Indonesia and Malaysia when the home fans rioted and referee Herbert Scheele was forced to intervene and abandon the match, awarding the final to Malaysia.

If he initially made his mark as first a player then a tournament official, his big successes came as an administrator.

He was Danish team manager and selector from 1973-81 and was chairman of Badminton Europe (formerly EBU) Court Officials Committee.

But the big step forward came in 1979 when he was elected to the Council of the then IBF. It was to be the start of a 24-year active involvement with the world governing body of the sport.

He put most of his time and energy into the business side of the game. As chairman of the Open Badminton Committee he developed and initiated international prizemoney events, thus paving the way for today’s professional players.

He was also instrumental in reforming the Thomas and Uber Cup competitons with the changes implemented in 1982 making the two premier team competitions more attractive for spectators and more lucrative for the BWF until the additional boost of Olympic income arrived.

The Cup improvements were the product of a small working group of Bacher, England’s Arthur Jones and Sweden’s Roger Johansson and the plans were thrashed out over a weekend during meetings in Tom’s garden.

At last badminton was going places and the World Grand Prix, which was the forerunner to today’s Superseries, was in full swing.

For 21 years Bacher was involved in the big international decisions as a member of what is today the BWF Executive Board.

But he was also invaluable in his role from 1987 as Vice President. In turn he helped three successive Presidents in their work.

Even so, his European role was not neglected. From 2004-2010 he was President of Badminton Europe and was a key figure in producing their successful business structure and professional approach that serves the continent so well today.

By 2015 Badminton Europe had a strong commercial platform, a good focus on media, and a rejuventated structure in terms of personnel, many of the key staff and officials talent spotted by Bacher.

Bacher’s political skills were also to the fore during Dr Kang’s Presidency in the first decade of the new century when the BWF experienced internal problems.

All this good work did not go unrewarded. He became an Honorary Life Vice President of both the BWF and Badminton Europe to go with his 2008 award of the Herbert Scheele Trophy for his outstanding and exceptional contribution to world badminton.

Dogged by ill health in recent times, he still remains a father figure to Danish, European and world badminton.


1981: Honoured by Danish Badminton Association

1987: Honoured by Danish Sports Confederation


Badminton Europe
BWF archives
Additional information courtesy of Torsten Berg

 -- By William Kings

Solo shot of tom bacher in 1990 Tom bacher in may 2012 Dane tom bacher the giant-killer - bg march 1967 Tom bacher in nov 2007 Tom bacher - wb dec 1986 Tom bacher - wb june 1985