World Snooker Championship venue 'smells', says Iran's Vafaei

Iranian criticises Crucible after crashing out to Trump

AFP April 22, 2024


Iran's Hossein Vafaei has lashed out at conditions at the venue for the World Snooker Championship, saying it "smells really bad" after being beaten by former winner Judd Trump.

Vafaei, 29, said practice facilities at the famous Crucible Theatre in the northern English city of Sheffield were "like playing in a garage" and questioned the treatment of players during the marathon 17-day event.

"Everything's so bad -- if you ask me if I want to come back here, I would tell you 'no way'," said Vafaei after Sunday's 10-5 defeat in the first round.

"Forget the history, you want to go somewhere really nice as a player. You walk around the Crucible and it smells really bad. You go to other countries, and everything is shiny. But here it's completely different.

"The practice room -- do you see anything special? I feel like I'm practising in a garage."

The Crucible, which has a capacity of 980 seats, has staged the tournament since 1977.

Speculation over its future has grown since world number one Ronnie O'Sullivan suggested it should be moved to Saudi Arabia or China when the existing deal expires in 2027.

World number 19 Vafaei, who made his debut at the Crucible in 2022, talked up China.

"Look at the China venues, how fantastic they treat the players, a red carpet and an opening ceremony," he said.

"The players are treated like stars. But here no one looks after the players, before and after the match no one cares who you are.

"If they don't want to lose the Crucible, invest some money, make it shinier, make it nicer, make it more luxury for the people. If they make it cleaner and nicer, people will enjoy it."

The World Snooker Tour responded in a statement: "The Crucible is a historic venue and there are limitations given the size of the backstage areas. We work with the Crucible to make it as welcoming as possible for players."


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