Ten suspended Chinese snooker players charged with match-fixing offences
18 Jan 2023 ( The Guardian )
Ten Chinese players have been charged with match-fixing offences by snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA, whose chairman Jason Ferguson described the situation as “heartbreaking”.
All 10 players currently suspended from the World Snooker Tour have been deemed to have cases to answer by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association following the sport’s biggest ever corruption investigation. Six players have been charged with fixing a match or matches: Yan Bingtao, the 2021 Masters champion, Lu Ning, Zhang Jiankang, Chen Zifan, Chang Bingyu and Zhao Jianbo.
Liang Wenbo, the first player to be suspended as part of the investigation in October, has been charged with “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”. Li Hang has been charged with “being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches”, while Zhao Xintong and Bai Langning have been charged with “being concerned in fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour”.
An independent disciplinary tribunal will now be convened to consider the evidence, with a verdict likely delivered before the World Championship in April.
“It is a heartbreaking situation for those of us who have been in this sport for a long time and have worked to make it the great sport it is,” Ferguson told ITV4. “That is why we are doing this. We have to have a pure sport which people watch, buy tickets for, we sell our rights around the world; it has to be pure, live competitive sport.
“We are taking this very seriously, we’ve come out with everything we possibly can. We’ve been transparent all the way in this process and we will again be transparent at the end of this to give the public and the audience watching the confidence that this sport is still great.”
Asked if some players could have played their last competitive match, Ferguson added: “Our rules are very clear on this, it does say that for manipulation of the betting rules, up to a lifetime ban can be received by a player from this tribunal.
“It’s impossible for me to give an outcome, it is up to that independent sports tribunal to make that decision. We, on both sides, will have to abide by that decision.”
Although all 10 players charged are from China, Ferguson said he was confident that the country would soon stage tournaments again, having not hosted events since the coronavirus pandemic. “Of course there is some short-term damage, it’s not a great look for us,” Ferguson said.
“It’s unfortunate we are in this position but our partners in China, the sports authority of China, they’re alongside us here. Whatever the outcome is, the demand is great for the sport.
“I can tell you that we are in very good talks with China over our return to China. I am very positive about returning there for the new season ahead.”SEE THE ORIGINAL ARTICLE