Sunday 25 February 2018

Higgins cleared on match-fixing charges

Martyn Herman in London

WORLD snooker number one John Higgins last night welcomed the outcome of a hearing that cleared him of match-fixing but imposed a six-month ban on the former world champion.

Higgins, who was also fined £75,000 (€91,000), admitted breaching rules around betting at the two-day London hearing that was overseen by independent body Sport Resolutions.

The 35-year-old Scot was suspended in May, pending an investigation into allegations of frame-throwing made by the 'News Of The World'.

He admitted "intentionally giving the impression to others that he and his manager were agreeing to act in breach of the betting rules" and failing to report the matter promptly to the governing body, World Snooker.

However, the charges of "agreeing or offering" to accept bribes and "agreeing to engage in corrupt or fraudulent conduct" were dropped.

Higgins's manager at the time of the alleged offences, Pat Mooney, has been permanently suspended from the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).

Speaking outside the hearing yesterday, Higgins said he was pleased he had been found not guilty of any dishonesty, adding that he "had no intention to fix a match and no intention to do anything corrupt".

He continued: "I have never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing. In my 18 years playing professional snooker, I've never deliberately missed a shot, never intentionally lost a frame or a match.

"I am glad the WPBSA's view of the events in Kiev reflects that statement.

"If I am guilty of anything, it is naivety and trusting those who I believed were working in the best interests of snooker and myself."

Higgins and Mooney, who was formerly on the board of the WPBSA, were filmed by the 'News Of The World' in Kiev allegedly agreeing to accept £261,000 (€317,000) in return for fixing the outcomes of four frames in matches to be played later this year.

Like Higgins, the two more serious charges against Mooney were withdrawn, while he admitted the other two.

Irish Independent

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