Snooker match-fixing: What happens next after 10 players are charged

January 18, 2023
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Phil Haigh ✍️  


Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong
Yan Bingtao and Zhao Xintong

The 10 players suspended from World Snooker Tour events as they were investigated for their involvement in match-fixing have now all been hit with charges as the WPBSA has decided they have a case to answer.

Some of those charges are self-explanatory but others are less clear, while the process of establishing guilt and any punishments being handed out is far from over.

Charges include fixing matches, approaching a player to fix a match, betting on snooker matches and being concerned in fixing matches, the latter a charge which has caused some confusion among fans.

‘Concerned in fixing matches’ is a charge being used to cover a range of possible involvements in fixing a match, or matches, that the player was not playing in.

While details of the specific allegations are not yet known, the following part of the WPBSA’s Conduct Regulations, could relate to a player being ‘concerned in fixing matches.’

2.1.2. Corruption:

2.1.2.1. to fix or contrive, or to be a party to any effort to fix or contrive, the, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match

2.1.2.4. to solicit, induce, entice, persuade, encourage or facilitate any Member to breach any of the foregoing provisions of this paragraph 2.1.2.

The players involved and the charges they are faced with are the following…



Suspended players and the charges they face

Liang Wenbo has been charged 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 WPBSA investigation.

Li Hang has been charged with being concerned in fixing matches and approaching players to fix matches on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches.

Lu Ning has been charged with fixing a match and being concerned in fixing matches and approaching a player to fix a match on the World Snooker Tour, seeking to obstruct the investigation and betting on snooker matches.

Yan Bingtao has been charged with fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour and betting on snooker.

Zhao Xintong has been charged with being concerned in fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour and betting on snooker.

Zhang Jiankang has been charged with fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour, failing to report approaches for him to fix matches and betting on snooker matches.

Chen Zifan has been charged with fixing matches on the World Snooker Tour.

Chang Bingyu and Zhao Jianbo have each been charged with fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour

Bai Langning has been charged with being concerned in fixing a match on the World Snooker Tour.

World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association chairman Jason Ferguson spoke to ITV4 at this week’s World Grand Prix about the charges after they were announced on Tuesday.

‘It is a heart-breaking situation for those of us who have been in this sport for a long time and have worked to make it the great sport it is,’ said Ferguson.

‘The process really started back in October, information came to light regarding some manipulation of results, that resulted in the suspension of Liang Wenbo to begin with. And that was the beginning of a very detailed investigation by our integrity unit. That detailed investigation is now finished and we are now at the point where charges will be pressed.’

Asked if the 10 players have already been proven guilty, he said: ‘All these names have cropped up in that inquiry for one reason or another. We feel that each of those players has a case to answer for a breach of the betting rules and our conduct regulations, and that is why we’ve moved to that prosecution stage.’

What happens next?

Ferguson explained: ‘In terms of timescales, what will happen now, we have an independent disciplinary chairman, it is that chairman’s responsibility to appoint now an independent sports tribunal to hear this case. We, at this point, will become prosecution in this case.

‘We are working extremely hard. February would make it extremely tight, we’ve got due process to follow. That legal process is a huge amount of work, already has been in this investigation, to take it to the next tribunal we want to make sure those players have fair representation and have also a fair amount of time to assess the position and be represented in any tribunal.

‘End of the season, yes it must be done [by then] as far as we’re concerned. We will target around March, I think with this, this is hopeful. But of course we have to rely on what time it takes for that independent tribunal to be established.’

What kind of punishments could players receive?

With varying charges and situations to take into account, there will clearly be a range of punishments if the players are found guilty of the alleged offences.

We can expect bans for any player found guilty, but the length of those bans will vary.

Ferguson explained: ‘I think today’s information is what we would call clarity over where we are today. What we’ve put out is a clear indication that there are varying charges being laid against these players, all on an individual basis.

‘That means that our rules will apply, precedent will apply and all these things that we’ve gone through in the past.

‘Our rules are very clear on this, it does say that for manipulation of the betting rules, up to a lifetime ban can be received by a player from this tribunal. It’s impossible for me to give an outcome, it is up to that independent sports tribunal to make that decision. We, on both sides, will have to abide by that decision.’

The WPBSA statement confirming the charges also stated: ‘The players are currently suspended from attending and competing on the World Snooker Tour and in other WPBSA governed events until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter.

‘This matter will be referred to a formal hearing before an Independent Disciplinary Tribunal that will take place at a venue and on a date to be confirmed.’

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