I’ve always thought that snooker is one of the few sports that its better to watch than it is to play, and there’s no better place to watch a match than on TV. But behind the polished veneer lies a troubling reality – the sport’s struggle to root out corruption. Despite the efforts to maintain integrity, a few rotten apples have tainted the reputation of the game, writes David Little, a Partner in our Commercial department who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.
The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has been at the forefront of combating corruption in snooker. They employ a robust anti-corruption unit and strict regulations to maintain the sport’s integrity. However, despite their best efforts, certain players have fallen into the traps of greed and temptation.
One of the most notorious cases of corruption in snooker involved the Scottish cueist, John Higgins. In 2010, a News of the World undercover investigation exposed Higgins and his manager, Pat Mooney, attempting to fix matches for financial gain. The investigation showed footage of Higgins agreeing to lose frames intentionally in exchange for large sums of money. Although Higgins maintained that he had no intention of match-fixing, he was still suspended from the sport for six months and fined £75,000.
Stephen Lee, a former world number five, also brought shame to the sport. In 2013, Lee was found guilty of match-fixing in seven different matches between 2008 and 2009. The evidence against him was substantial, leading to a 12-year ban from professional snooker. His case not only highlighted the dangers of corruption but also exposed the vulnerabilities within the sport’s regulatory measures.
In 2012, the cue sport community was shocked when the lesser-known player Joe Jogia was banned from snooker for ten years. Jogia’s involvement with an Indo-Pak betting syndicate led to his suspension. The syndicate had been attempting to manipulate the outcomes of certain matches by bribing players. While Jogia’s ban was a significant step in deterring future corruption, it also raised concerns about the presence and influence of illegal betting networks.
Snooker, like any other sport, is not immune to the threat of corruption. While the WPBSA has taken significant steps to combat this issue, the cases of John Higgins, Stephen Lee, Joe Jogia, and others serve as stark reminders that more work needs to be done. Rooting out corruption entirely requires a collective effort from players, governing bodies, and fans alike. By continuing to implement stringent regulations, educating players about the dangers of corruption, and increasing awareness about illegal betting networks, the sport can hope to protect its integrity and preserve its cherished reputation for generations to come. Only then can snooker truly flourish as a fair and honest cue sport on the global stage.
Snooker’s governing bodies have implemented measures such as rigorous monitoring of betting activities and educational programs to raise awareness among players. However, detecting and preventing corruption remains an arduous task. The sport’s relatively low earnings for many players, compared to other major sports, can make them vulnerable to external influences seeking to exploit their financial situations.
Contact our Sports Lawyer
David Little, is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB414 on either 07968 027343 or 020 7631 4141 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The above is accurate as at 10 August 2023. The information above may be subject to change.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.