Snooker is often billed as a gentleman’s sport and, as we all know, two crucial characteristics for being a gentleman include being gracious in defeat and showing impeccable manners. Or so we thought. Apparently Shanghaiist’s interpretation of gentlemanly behaviour differs somewhat from that of China’s Today Morning Express, after they reported that Ronnie O’Sullivan “kept his gentlemanly manners” during a post-match press conference at Beijing’s China Open snooker tournament this week. Having watched the video embedded here (following a tip from Shanghaiist reader Rob), where the Essex-born potter repeatedly makes lewd references and compares his microphone to his penis, we’re not sure we entirely agree with the Express’ assessment.
While O’Sullivan’s inappropriate comments and suggestive handling of the microphone might have gone unnoticed and unreported by the Chinese press, his behaviour has landed him in trouble with Snooker’s governing body and has been widely reported in the British papers who, let’s face it, love this sort of thing. Chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association, Sir Rodney Walker, didn’t find O’Sullivan’s attitude quite so amusing however and moved swiftly to condemn the player’s behaviour:
“The matter has been referred to the disciplinary committee and is under review. On behalf of World Snooker, I have apologised in person today to the promoter of the China Open. I would also like to send my apologies to the people of China for any offence that may have been caused.”
O’Sullivan, who once stated that he didn’t like playing in China because “they don’t speak English”, was (reluctantly) answering questions via a translator following his 5-4 defeat to Marco Fu in the first round of the China Open. Despite claiming that he “tried very hard”, this is not the first time that ‘The Rocket’ has crashed out in the first round in China following a lacklustre performance and he was not the only big name who seemed happy to collect their appearance fee and leave — Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis joining Graeme Dott in exiting early on as well.
Maintaining a good image in China is seen as crucial to snooker’s governing body having steadily built the sport’s popularity in the country on the back of homegrown star Ding Junhui. The apparent lack of interest from some of the sport’s star attractions has already been causing headaches for the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association and it’s fair to say that O’Sullivan’s comments will have done little to help matters. It might not be a scandal of Edison Chen proportions, but it’s probably as close as snooker will get for a while.