World Snooker responds to Ronnie O'Sullivan 'bullying' claims

The snooker legend made the accusations after beating Gary Wilson in the World Snooker Championships

BY Sinéad Farrell 13:49 Monday 17 April 2017, 13:49 17 Apr 2017

Danny Lawson/PA Wire/PA Images

World Snooker has responded to claims from Ronnie O'Sullivan, who says he has been 'bullied' and 'intimidated' by World Snooker authorities.

O'Sullivan launched an attack at World Snooker last night, which relate to comments made by Hearn regarding O'Sullivan's conduct in interviews. He was also expressing his anger at receiving a letter from disciplinary chiefs after he criticised a referee and photographer during January's Masters.

Speaking to Press Association after his first round victory over Gary Wilson in the World Snooker Championships, he said:

"I phoned Barry up four weeks ago and I said, 'Look Barry, I'm done with all you and your board of people.' And I've got a very good friend of mine who said, 'Just let my lawyers deal with it.' I won't get involved with it because I'm not being bullied, I'm not having people doing that to me ever again. I like Barry but I'm not being intimidated or bullied any more."

World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn has since responded to O'Sullivan's comments, and said that he personally takes 'any accusation of 'bullying and intimidation' by me or World Snooker very seriously.' He added that they 'will take whatever action is required to protect this reputation from such inaccurate comments.'

Hearn described O'Sullivan as 'embarrassing' following post-match interviews where the snooker legend was giving short answers. O'Sullivan also spoke in a robotic voice during an ITV interview at the World Grand Prix in February.

Writing in a blog post for Eurosport, O'Sullivan previously wrote that he would not be speaking at length in press conferences or interviews anymore, 'because when I share my thoughts, I risk being fined. For some reason, I appear to get fined more than all the fines the other players get for similar offences.

The full statement from Hearn reads:

1. All players have contracts with World Snooker Limited by way of a players’ contract which was written in conjunction with WPBSA and agreed with the players’ governing body. This sets out the obligations of the players and applies to all participants on the World Snooker Tour. There are no exceptions. Ronnie O’Sullivan has signed this contract and is therefore eligible to play in any World Snooker events as he wishes.

2. World Snooker owns the worldwide commercial rights for professional snooker. WPBSA is the governing body and represents the professional players on the World Snooker Tour. The WPBSA is exclusively responsible for all disciplinary matters pertaining to snooker, its players and their responsibilities outlined in the players’ contract. Neither World Snooker nor myself have any involvement whatsoever in disciplinary matters.

3. Neither World Snooker nor myself have received any communication from Ronnie O’Sullivan’s lawyers in regard to his responsibilities or concerns in relation to his signed players’ contract.

4. I personally take any accusation of 'bullying and intimidation' by me or World Snooker very seriously. Unfounded accusations such as these are damaging to World Snooker’s global reputation, as well as my own, and we will take whatever action is required to protect this reputation from such inaccurate comments.

5. I hope all parties can move on from this position and concentrate on the brilliant entertainment provided by players at the Betfred World Championship.

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