Ronnie O’Sullivan has shot down Shaun Murphy’s suggestion that amateur players should be barred from professional snooker events. Murphy, 39, launched an extraordinary rant after losing 6-5 to Si Jiahui in the first round of the UK Championship this week, saying he had been beaten by someone “who shouldn’t even have been in the building.”
Murphy trailed 3-0 and then 5-1 before mounting a strong comeback, only to then lose the deciding frame in a shock defeat at the York Barbican.
But afterwards, the world No 6 wasn’t in the mood for grace and humility, claiming that his Chinese opponent was at an unfair advantage as he was playing without pressure.
“I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood. This is our living. We are self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“The other 127 runners and riders in the tournament, it is their livelihood too. It is wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who is not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am.
“He played like a man who does not have a care in the world, because he does not have a care in the world. It is not fair, it is not right.”
‘The Magician’ did concede that Jiahui deserved the win and insisted he wasn’t picking on the 19-year-old, but added: “Amateurs should not be allowed in professional tournaments, the end.”
“I hope it gets worse, honestly. I hope it gets worse for them,” said O’Sullivan. “They better start looking for a job if they don’t like it”
“I drew a line under it a long time ago. I can change what I do, that’s what I’m saying to Murphy, go and get a job, do something else, play snooker for fun because you’re going to have loads more of that.
“Get your head around it, you’ve got choices to make. Five or six years ago I made a real conscious effort to play for fun and just enjoy it. I went and got a job and played this for a hobby.
“You’ll never hear me talk like that because it’s a hobby, but when it means something to you then it can hurt.”
O’Sullivan, 45, said he’s now in the mind set where he’ll play “amateurs, women, referees” and recalled the days when he was an amateur breaking through the ranks.
“I remember being an amateur playing a pro, Willie Thorne playing a 14-year-old me, it was embarrassing for him to lose to me, so I know what it feels like to be a favourite and to lose but that’s just how it is,” he continued.
“Just got to get on with it, enjoy it, keep smiling, it’s all good.”