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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Hector Nunns

Ronnie O'Sullivan issues opinion on snooker's match-fixing probe as chiefs hit back

Ronnie O’Sullivan believes if anyone is found guilty of match-fixing they are either “addicted” or are “struggling to make ends meet."

The Rocket, who cruised through to the quarter-finals of the Masters at Alexandra Palace with a 6-1 win over Belgium’s Luca Brecel, spoke for the first time about the probe that saw Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao sidelined for this event. Xintong and Bingtao are among 10 Chinese players waiting to see if they will be charged this month following the allegations.

O’Sullivan urged caution about jumping to conclusions but believes that the game can survive even if the worst happens with multiple convictions and bans. Amid the biggest investigation of its kind the game has seen, he said: “Before you start criticising the guys involved you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes.

“It can only be one of two things, they either have an addiction and if that’s a case then they need help, or they are struggling to make ends meet. Maybe they are forced into desperation and that’s not a good situation either.

“World Snooker could help support them rather than being hard on them and maybe change their structure and not put these players in that situation. I’m sure it’s happened in football and it hasn’t harmed football."

And he also cited other sports as a reason why snooker can recover: "I’m sure it’s happened in tennis and it hasn’t done tennis any harm. It will get sorted and get done.”

Zhao Xintong is one player currently suspended from the World Snooker Tour (PA)

Snooker’s governing bodies were quick to hit back at O’Sullivan’s claims and said in a statement: “WST and WPBSA provide support both in guaranteed income and the opportunity to earn significant sums of prize money, available on the World Snooker Tour. Our structure includes a Players’ Board and providing welfare and support to our players is extremely important to us.”

Away from the crisis, O’Sullivan – who made breaks of 134 and 104 – admitted he often lays it on too thick about ‘not caring’. He added: “I might say I don’t care sometimes but there is a very good competitor there – what I mean is just that I have got life in perspective and the balance right.

“I’m very competitive, like Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis. If I play you, I want to beat you. It’s natural, I’ll never lose that and the other players can expect me to keep coming for more because I ain’t going away just yet.”

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