Shaun Murphy Slams ‘Soft’ Ban Lengths Handed Out To Snooker’s Match-Fixers

Ten Chinese players were banned from snooker after being found guilty of match-fixing on Tuesday
20:00, 08 Jun 2023

Shaun Murphy has slammed the length of many of the bans handed out to the Chinese match-fixers – insisting they were “too soft”.

Former world champion Murphy, 40, was one of the players of last season – winning the Players’ and Tour Championship titles, as well as reaching the Welsh Open final.

And the world No7 was also one of very few to call for life bans should those suspended be found guilty of serious match-fixing offences.


Liang Wenbo and Li Hang did receive the stiffest penalty of a career ban - as requested by the WPBSA.

But others found guilty of either fixing matches or being party to that crime will be excluded for far less time.

Former Masters champion Yan Bingtao, 23, was found guilty of fixing four matches – but with a third cut from his ban for pleading guilty he could be back in five years.

Murphy said: “The length of the bans has left me with mixed feelings. Yes, I had called for life bans for anyone involved in match-fixing. And two of the 10 have got those life bans.

“But I was told months ago that life bans were almost unobtainable, and totally unrealistic and not achievable, that it couldn’t happen.

“So given it has happened, it then got into splitting hairs over what level of cheating is worse than another level.

“If we lose the trust of the public, who pays money to watch us play, and if we lose that integrity, we have nothing. These players have abused the trust placed in them.

“So for me two life bans out of 10 wasn’t enough and some of them should count themselves very, very lucky. Life bans is the only stick to hit these people with.

Yan Bingtao, 23, was found guilty of fixing four matches
Yan Bingtao, 23, was found guilty of fixing four matches

“This getting two and a half years reduced to 18 months for coming clean…it’s too soft and too lenient, and doesn’t pose enough of a deterrent. Some could be playing again in two or three years.

“If you are Liang Wenbo and been found guilty of A, B and C, you are banned for life. But if you are someone else who cheated and fixed a match and lost on purpose, then you get four or five years.

“I would have liked to keep it simple. If you are involved in match-fixing in any way, then you have no place in the sport – ever.

“You get a third off just for pleading guilty – but you’ve still done it in the first place. So several of these players should be thankful it wasn’t up to me.

“Because if it had been me, anyone guilty of fixing a match we would never have seen again. And on that basis, a few of them could be seen as fortunate, even if I’m sure they don’t see it like that.”

And Murphy also has questioned why there seems little prospect of any police or CPS action for this form of cheating.

With no actual offence of match-fixing as in parts of Australia, such wrongdoing could come under the Bribery Act and would usually fall to either the National Crime Agency, or regional fraud or crime units.

But as with the Stephen Lee fixing case that saw him banned for 12 years, again there seemed little appetite to get involved by the police.

Murphy added: “I am surprised the police do not get more involved in such cases in sport.

“It feels as if the police have got their hands full with other things and more serious matters than bent snooker players, though I don’t know exactly why.

“It would help having an even stronger deterrent than sporting sanctions, let’s say for example time in prison.

“Put it this way, the criticism I got for calling for life bans – the tide seems to have turned on that one publicly.

“And yes, for that reason I would welcome more intervention on the criminal side of things though it’s hard to see that situation changing.”

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