Match-fixing investigation is ’embarrassing’ for snooker – Steve Davis

Snooker great Steve Davis has described the ongoing investigation into alleged match-fixing as “embarrassing” for the sport, and says any player found guilty of the offence will have shown a “breathtaking level of stupidity”.

This year’s Masters tournament got under way at Alexandra Palace on Sunday without Zhao Xintong and Yan Bingtao, who are two of 10 Chinese players currently suspended from the tour pending the outcome of a probe by the sport’s world governing body, the WPBSA.

Three-time Masters champion Davis told BBC Sport: “If the allegations are proven to be true, it shows a breathtaking level of stupidity by these players, but this is still to be developed.

2018 Dafabet Masters – Day Six – Alexandra Palace
Steve Davis has described snooker’s match-fixing allegations as “embarrassing” (Adam Davy/PA)

“It’s embarrassing. I think all the players are aware of the situation and fortunately the WPBSA is on top of it. What effect it has on the game, it’s hard to evaluate at the moment.”

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson told the BBC on Sunday that investigations were at a “mature” stage, adding: “I think we are one to two weeks away from the completion of that inquiry.”

The inquiry will determine whether formal charges are to be laid against any of the 10 players concerned, which would then be handled by an independent tribunal.

Yan Bingtao will not compete at the Masters
Yan Bingtao will not compete at the Masters (Isaac Parkin/PA)

Davis expressed fears that the allegations could have a negative impact on the sport in China, which has been frozen out of the tour since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Talks have been ongoing about the sport’s return to China in light of recently relaxed regulations but such a move now appears to be in jeopardy.

“What effect it has in China is even harder to say,” added Davis. “It may have a detrimental effect on events over there – let’s hope not.”

Following their suspensions, Yan and Zhao were replaced in the 16-strong Masters draw by David Gilbert and Hossein Vafaei respectively.