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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Ben Parsons

Young snooker stars 'receive threats to family members' to deliberately lose matches

The corruption crisis that has engulfed snooker is said to involve young players receiving threats to their family members to deliberately lose matches.

Ten Chinese players have been charged with different offences by snooker bosses in the biggest match-fixing scandal in the sport's history.

Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong, both touted as future world champions, are among the highest profile players currently suspended by the sport's WPBSA governing body during an unprecedented investigation.

And the other eight players with cases to answer are Liang Wenbo, Lu Ning, Li Hang, Chang Bingyu, Zhang Ziakang, Chen Zifan, Bai Langning and Zhao Jianbo.

Every player sidelined during the investigation is based in Britain and The Times report that some youngsters embroiled in the probe have been allegedly targeted with threats to fix matches.

It is claimed that there are concerns that threats have been made to players and their families to pressurise them into throwing matches.

And the report adds that the Gambling Commission is weighing up whether to take the case to the police amid the possibility of involvement with organised crime.

Former English Open winner Liang - who was suspended on October 27 and has previously been banned by the WBPSA over a court conviction for assault - faces charges of 'being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and failing to cooperate with the WPBSA investigation.'

Zhao Xintong is the highest ranked player suspended in the investigation (PA)

And it is alleged by suspended youngster Chang that Liang threatened him to lose a British Open match against Jamie Jones in September. Chang, 20 had accused Liang, 35, of intimidating him into losing his match 4-1 against Jones, which he did out of fear.

The allegation was made against Liang on a now deleted post on Weibo, which is China's version of Twitter. Chang wrote: "On the morning of the start of the game, Liang Wenbo called me in a threatening tone, saying he was ‘in’ my game against Jamie Jones.

Former English Open winner Liang faces serious allegations (Getty Images)

"I was afraid that he had bet so much money. If I didn’t agree, he would make trouble for me, so I had no choice but to agree. I was very scared."

Meanwhile, former Masters winner Yan and UK Champion Zhao, both also facing fixing allegations, are said to be having some of their matches studied. Last year's German Masters final, where Zhao defeated Yan 9-0 in a whitewash in Berlin, is said to be of interest to investigators.

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