Another Blow to Snooker's Clean Image
If you are a dedicated follower of snooker or just watch the news regularly you will have heard the news that former World Number 5, Stephen Lee, has been found guilty of fixing 7 matches on the World Snooker tour by an independent tribunal. He punishment is due to be meted out on the 24th September with the top brass at World Snooker expected to push for a lifetime ban.
It is simply a crying shame that a player of Lee’s obvious class has felt the need to cheat, he has always been a very good player to watch with one of the smoothest and most powerful cue actions around.
To me what makes this even more of a shame is that since Barry Hearn became Chairman of World Snooker playing opportunities and tournament prize money have been on the increase, with new tournaments being added each year since Hearn came on board.
In my eyes it was not even as if Lee was on a dramatic decline, he was still reaching venues and televised stages of tournaments, even winning the PTC Grand Finals in Ireland last year a tournament that would have earned him a hefty 5 figure sum.
Not that I would ever condone cheating or match fixing but perhaps as humans we could perhaps be a bit more inclined to understand if a profession a person has been involved with for some time was slowly slipping from their grasp, but, in the case of Lee, he was still able to do damage on the table, and still capable of earning very good money.
I do not know Stephen Lee, nor the ins and outs of what actually went on but some people are easier to influence from outside than others, with the massive growth of online gambling and more importantly in-play betting perhaps certain individuals simply cannot resist the temptation or are being pressured from outside to cheat and to fix certain elements of matches.
We have read stories before of sinister organised crime syndicates putting pressure on footballers so that can win big on Asian betting markets. Snooker is now huge in Asia and in China in particular and the growth looks set to continue, nobody likes losing, especially where bookmakers are concerned, so is the Lee case just the tip of the iceberg? I sincerely hope not.