A war of words has broken out between World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn and Ronnie O’Sullivan after snooker’s megastar indicated a match-fixing punishment for two Chinese players by snooker bosses was too harsh.
On Saturday the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) announced a ten-year ban for China’s Yu Delu and a six year ban (three-and-a-half years suspended) for fellow countryman Cao Yupeng after they were found guilty of deliberately fixing matches for financial gain.
The punishments were some of the biggest seen in the history of the sport.
Reacting to the news, O’Sullivan said on Twitter: “Just to be clear whilst I think the banned Chinese players have been treated harshly I do not support crime or corruption in anyway – I have my own views on certain issues which I will share with you, more to follow.”
Less than an hour later, O’Sullivan received an angry response from World Snooker chairman Hearn – who certainly didn’t mince his words on the social media site.
Hearn called O’Sullivan’s comment “stupid” and said he was “getting ridiculous” with his Twitter comments of late.
His reply said: “Harshly! Are you serious ? Cheats exposed and punished. Please keep such stupid comments to yourself.
“Your getting ridiculous and I expect better from a player of your standing. Enough.”
Last month Hearn said O’Sullivan’s Twitter comments were “ill-informed” after the five-times world champion said World Snooker ran the professional tour “through fear and greed” and “did not care about players”.
Meanwhile on the table, O’Sullivan suffered a major scare on his way to reaching the third round of this year’s UK Championship.
O’Sullivan appeared to be in huge trouble when he trailed former world champion Ken Doherty 4-1 in this afternoon’s second round encounter.
In the pair’s first meeting in over EIGHT years, O’Sullivan stormed back from three frames behind to take command with a 5-4 lead.
But Doherty refused to give in and then won the tenth frame to force a final frame decider.
However, breaks of 31 and 58 proved enough for O’Sullivan to get the victory and a place in the Last 32 stage.
Should O’Sullivan successfully defend the title he won last year – he will become the UK Championship’s most successful player – overtaking Steve Davis’ six UK titles.
China’s number one Ding Junhui also survived a major scare today as he fought back from 5-4 down against Matthew Selt to clinch an important win.
Ding has not won a ranking event in the UK for more than six years.
Northern Ireland Open winner Judd Trump returns to action this evening with a second round match against Dominic Dale.
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