Seven-times world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan called on snooker’s governing bodies to provide support for players suspended following an ongoing match-fixing investigation.
O’Sullivan, 47, urged caution about jumping to conclusions and highlighted the struggle to make a living from professional snooker after he reached the quarter-finals of the Masters at Alexandra Palace on Monday.
The tournament has been overshadowed by the absence of former champion Yan Bingtao and world number nine Zhao Xintong, who are among 10 Chinese players suspended as part of the investigation.
“Before you start criticising the guys involved you have to put yourself in other people’s shoes,” O’Sullivan said. “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.
“World Snooker could help support them rather than being hard on them and maybe change their structure and maybe not put these players in that situation... Maybe help in some way where it’s less punishing for the lower-ranked players.
“I’m not one to be hard on them because I know it’s not easy for the bottom players... Try and get to the bottom of it and try and support these people to hopefully put them in a position where they might not feel the need to have to do what they’ve had to do.”
Also Read | Davis says match-fixing probe ‘embarrassing’ for snooker
In a joint statement cited by British media, World Snooker Tour (WST) and the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) said they provide “support both in guaranteed income and the opportunity to earn significant sums of prize money”.
“Our structure includes a Players’ Board, and providing welfare and support to our players is extremely important to us,” it said.