Snooker stars facing match-fixing charges

Ten Chinese snooker players face match-fixing charges following an investigation by the governing World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA)'s integrity unit.

Liang Wenbo, Li Hang, Lu Ning, Yan Bingtao, Zhao Xintong, Zhang Jiankang, Chen Zifan, Chang Bingyu, Zhao Jianbo and Bai Langning are the players charged.

Zhao Xintong, who won the 2021 UK Championship and last year's German Masters, is ranked ninth in the world, while Yan is a former Masters champion. Both players were barred from competing in last week's Masters.

Zhao Xintong has been charged with being concerned in fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour and betting on snooker, while Yan has been charged with fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour and betting on snooker.

"The (10) players are currently suspended from attending and competing on the World Snooker Tour and in other WPBSA governed events until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter," a statement from the sport's governing body read.

"This matter will be referred to a formal hearing before an Independent Disciplinary Tribunal that will take place at a venue and on a date to be confirmed."

Snooker has exploded in popularity in China over the past decade, mainly thanks to the success of Ding Junhui, who has won the Masters and the UK Championship and been runner-up in the World Championship.

Many Chinese players are based in an academy in the English city of Sheffield, where the World Championship is held every year.

"The whole process has been very upsetting and potentially life-changing for people," World Snooker chairman Jason Ferguson said.

"It's very damaging but I do think the damage is short-term. We have to deliver world-class live entertainment and know the sport is clean. We will move on."

There have been no tournaments in China since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's a big commercial market for snooker," Ferguson said.

"Despite this ongoing issue, the mood about our events is very positive. Our return to China is inevitable."

With AP