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02nd May 2024

Ronnie O’Sullivan called ‘the ultimate sportsman’ for act in shock defeat to Stuart Bingham

Simon Kelly

“I’m not that hungry to win it in that way.”

Ronnie O’Sullivan has been praised as ‘the ultimate sportsman’ after a bizarre incident in his shock World Snooker Championship defeat to Stuart Bingham.

The quarter-final, which 2015 champion Bingham won 13-10, saw an incident in the 12th frame involving O’Sullivan and referee Desislava Bozhilova.

The problem occurred when the seven-time world champion repeatedly asked the referee to re-spot the black ball as he believed it was rolling off its initial placement due to a small bump on the table, incorrectly allowing him to pot it.

“You’re absolutely right to ask for it to be respotted, but I could also see it rolling,” Bozhilova said to O’Sullivan during their exchange. “But it stayed this time.”

O’Sullivan then opted to play it safe and not attempt to pot the ball, receiving a loud applause from the audience.

BBC commentator Neil Robertson also called it “the greatest bit of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen”.

Ronnie O’Sullivan called ‘the ultimate sportsman’ for act in shock defeat to Stuart Bingham

However, the incident took another turn after the game, with O’Sullivan’s explanation at odds with what initially looked like pure sportsmanship.

Speaking to Eurosport, the seven-time World champion said: “To be honest with you, some of the refs, I think they’ve got it in for me, so I just wanted to prove to her that she got it wrong.

“I didn’t feel good about potting the ball after that, but I just wanted to make the point. The point was made. I’m not that hungry to win it in that way, so once the principle’s been made I can sleep at night.”

When asked about the incident again, O’Sullivan was tight-lipped on the matter: “I won’t be commenting on players or referees, it’s not worth it.

“I’ll keep silent on that sort of stuff. I won’t comment on players and I won’t comment on referees. I just leave it as it is. My life’s too good and I don’t need the hassle.”

While O’Sullivan missed out on the chance to win a record eighth world championship, he insisted that he only played in the tournament because a new sponsor “twisted my arm”.

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