WORLD Snooker chairman Barry Hearn believes John Higgins’ name has been tarnished, despite the former world champion being cleared of match-fixing.
“The tribunal felt that Mr Higgins was not involved in any type of match-fixing. They were satisfied that he had no such involvement,’’ said Hearn. “But let’s be honest, his reputation has been damaged.’’
Higgins, 35, was fined £75,000 (€91,000) and banned for six months for bringing the game into disrepute.
The Scot’s ban, backdated to May, was imposed by Sports Resolutions UK and backed by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (World Snooker).
Higgins’ former manager, Pat Mooney, was handed a life ban from snooker after a News of the World video appeared to show he and Higgins in discussions with an undercover reporter in Kiev to throw frames in return for £261,000 (€317,000).
Hearn explained why the subsequent investigation and ruling produced different punishments for Higgins and Mooney, who had pled guilty to the same charges.
He said: “The two people’s involvement was at an entirely different level: one was for potential financial gain and the other was not.
“It’s the decision of some of the best legal brains in this country, bearing in mind the evidence and handled in an independent way. They obviously felt that the severity of the charge against Mr Higgins was not as serious as the charge against Mr Mooney.
“John Higgins’ involvement was limited as compared to the involvement of Mr Mooney.”
According to Hearn, who backs the three-time world champion to return to the top, the charge of match-fixing was dropped on a technicality.
“It was felt that the match-fixing (charge) could be challenged legally because the matches involved were not under the auspices of World Snooker: it was an independent, private event,” said Hearn. “It fell outside the rules of the World Snooker Association.’’
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