10 Chinese snooker players charged with match-fixing after corruption investigation
- Investigation by governing body results in some of biggest names in the sport being accused of corrupt activity
- World No 16 Yan Bingtao and No 9 Zhao Xintong among the players facing charges as scandal plunges snooker into crisis
Ten Chinese snooker players were charged on Wednesday for their alleged roles in a match-fixing scandal that has plunged the sport into its biggest corruption crisis.
An investigation by the integrity unit of snooker’s governing body has resulted in some of the biggest names in the sport – including the 16th-ranked Yan Bingtao and world No 9-ranked Zhao Xintong – being accused of corrupt activity such as fixing matches, approaching players to manipulate matches and betting on matches.
The 10 players are currently suspended and will continue to be banned from competing on the World Snooker Tour until the conclusion of the case, the governing body said.
There will be a formal hearing followed by an independent disciplinary tribunal.
Liang Wenbo, a former finalist in the UK Championship, was the first player to be suspended, in October.
He has been charged by the sport’s governing body 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 investigation by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.
Nine more players were suspended over the following two weeks, with Bingtao – the 2021 Masters champion – and Xintong – who won the UK Championship in the same year – among them.
The Masters and the UK Championship are the two biggest events on the snooker schedule after the World Championship.
Bingtao has been charged with “fixing matches … and betting on snooker”, and Xintong with “being concerned in fixing matches … and betting on snooker”.
The other players charged are Li Hang, Lu Ning, Zhang Jiankang, Chen Zifan, Chang Bingyu, Zhao Jianbo and Bai Langning.
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 35-year-old was caught on CCTV punching a kicking a woman in Sheffield City Centre before dragging her to the floor.
He was handed a 12-month community order and fined £1,380 (US$1.690) after pleading guilty to the charge at Sheffield Magistrates Court.
It is not the first time that snooker has been plagued by match fixing scandal.
In 2013, former World Championship semi-finalist Stephen Lee was fined £40,000 (US$49,000) and banned for 12 years after being found guilty of match fixing.