Ronnie O’Sullivan and his kowtow to Saudi Arabia


Ronnie O’Sullivan has emphasized many times that he also plays snooker because he can earn good money from the sport. A few years ago he deliberately passed up the chance of a maximum break at the Welsh Open because the prize of 10,000 pounds offered for it wasn’t high enough for him. “That’s too cheap,” he said afterwards and explained that you wouldn’t get a new Mercedes for 3,000 pounds.

His statement about his comeback in 2013 is also legendary, when he returned on time for the World Cup after a completely missed season. “In fact, I didn’t miss snooker one bit, but I needed a little money.” He said it and became world champion a little later.

Genius and madness – Ronnie O’Sullivan embodies both like no other. On Sunday, now 48, he will be the clear favorite in the round of 16 at this year’s World Cup against Welshman Ryan Day (11 a.m./Eurosport). If he performs as confidently as he did in the first round against Jackson Page, it should be a walk into the quarterfinals.

In Sheffield he will then be able to answer further questions about his latest gold coup – there is hardly any other way to put it. At an advanced age as an athlete, he signed a three-year contract with Saudi Arabia and will act as a snooker ambassador there in the future. He wants to compete in tournaments in the country and also set up an academy. “I love laying a foundation for snooker,” he told SportsBoom.com, even going so far as to pledge any support to the Saudis: “Whatever His Excellency decides to do, I’m happy to do it all with him discuss.”

Saudi Arabia and sport – this is a relationship that is based almost exclusively on money. Football, golf, tennis and now snooker. As soon as the kingdom calls, the protagonists have dollar or pound signs in their eyes. Ronnie O’Sullivan isn’t the first here and he won’t be the last either.

What is also interesting in this context is the fact that O’Sullivan recently railed against the venerable Crucibile Theater in Sheffield as the venue for the World Cup in the British tabloid “The Sun”. “I don’t like the Crucible. I think it would be a wise decision to take the tournament away from Sheffield.” Surprisingly, Saudi Arabia would be a good alternative for him: “They have the resources and would do great.”

When you walk through here it smells really bad. No joke. Everything is so bad.

Hossein Vafaei via the Crucible Theater in Sheffield

A discussion of values ​​has also begun in snooker. How much does tradition count when big money comes into play? There is still a contract with Sheffield that runs until 2027. But snooker boss Barry Hearn has already indicated that things cannot continue like this. There should be 2,000 to 3,000 seats for fans at a World Cup. The Crucible Theater currently only holds 980 spectators. So changes are urgently needed.

Other players would also have little objection to a change in the World Cup venue. Just as dramatically as O’Sullivan, Iran’s Hossein Vafaei expressed his distaste for the Crucible after his first-round loss to Judd Trump: “When you walk through here, it smells really bad. No joke. Everything is so bad. Would I want to come here again? The answer is no.”

But there are also other opinions about the Crucible. Former world champion Ken Doherty told SportsBoom.com: “I don’t think money should buy you something like a World Cup,” said the Irishman. He sent a request to Barry Hearn: “Please don’t sell the World Cup!”

However, it is questionable whether he will listen to him. At least he’s still thinking about it. Others like Ronnie O’Sullivan have already made this decision, albeit initially only for themselves.



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