Ronnie O'Sullivan "devastated" after being dragged into fresh snooker 'cheat' storm

February 22, 2020
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Ronnie O’Sullivan insisted he was “devastated” after being caught up in a new ‘cheat’ storm at the Shootout.

The Rocket apologised to beaten first-round opponent Alan McManus after TV replays showed he had fouled the black in Friday’s late-night clash in Watford.

O’Sullivan, playing in the quickfire event for the first time in five years in front of a raucous sell-out crowd, grazed the black with his cue while potting a tough pink.

Referee Desislava Bozhilova, alerted to the incident, called out “Stop” as O’Sullivan lined up the next red but failed to halt him playing the next shot.

And five-time world champion O’Sullivan, 44, claimed the deafening noise inside the Colosseum had played a part in not hearing either the foul or the official.

The incident led to a hail of online criticism for both O’Sullivan - with accusations of 'cheating' - and the referee. Bozhilova was also involved in another recent incident when Ali Carter talked her out of a correct call.

And there were echoes of another O’Sullivan incident at the English Open in 2018 when a foul by him in a 5-3 win over Luo Honghao went undetected.

O’Sullivan, denying any intent to deceive, said: “Look, when you’ re playing in a normal snooker tournament it is deadly silent. Snooker, like any sport, is played by sound.

“You hear everything usually and out there I couldn’t even hear it when I was hitting the ball.

O'Sullivan had a controversial moment in his match on Friday night

“It was totally news to me when I came in this morning and was told Desi was shouting my name to stop. I couldn’t hear her – then you watch it on TV and think ‘How could you not hear her?’

“But it was like playing in a football stadium with the singing and the chanting, and I couldn’t hear her. She is miked up to TV.

“I was devastated when O came in today, and I said to Alan I have heard and I am gutted and said to him if I could give you my place then I would, but I can’t.”

Shortly after the incident a shaken Bozhilova then re-spotted the yellow on the green spot.

O'Sullivan and McManus shake hands during their match

O’Sullivan added: “I said to the ref today ‘Desi I hear there were a couple of incidents, me hitting the black and you re-spotting the yellow on the green spot.

“And she said to me that her head was gone after that situation. So it shows in that atmosphere there a lot of little things can go wrong.

“After she asked me to stop and I played the next red, maybe they could change the rule. They could have stopped me, and put the pink and white back like the miss rule to get it right.”

A World Snooker spokesperson said: “If a foul is neither awarded by the referee nor successfully claimed by the non-striker before the next stroke is made then it is condoned.”

This post appeared first on Daily Star - Snooker.

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