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World of Sport

21st Apr 2023

Ronnie O’Sullivan’s opponent accused of ‘disrespecting’ him with break-off shot

Robert Redmond

ronnie osullivan

The pair aren’t on good terms.

Hossein Vafaei has been accused of ‘disrespecting’ Ronnie O’Sullivan with a break-off shot during the Snooker World Championship match between the pair on Friday afternoon.

O’Sullivan and Vafaei played the first session of their last-16 tie at the Crucible and came into the match following a much-publicised war of words.

The Iranian snooker player had previously said that the seven-time world champion was ‘not good for the game’.

Hossein Vafaei accused of ‘disrespecting’ Ronnie O’Sullivan with break-off shot.

The tension between the pair was evident as they took their seats for Friday’s encounter. O’Sullivan won the first frame in the best-of-25-frames match.

Vafaei then stepped up to break off for frame two. The world number 23 played an aggressive and unorthodox shot, smashing up the pack of reds and leaving several easy shots for his opponent.

It was a shot more befitting of a game of pool than snooker and left commentators and pundits covering the game dumbfounded.

O’Sullivan went on to win the frame with a break of 78.

On the BBC, former world champion Stephen Hendry said that the player needed to stay calm or would lose the game.

Steve Davis, another former world champion, said that Vafaei’s break-off was ’embarrassing’.

While on commentary, John Virgo said that the shot was ‘disrespectful’ to Vafaei’s ability, as he was not giving himself the best chance of victory.

The 28-year-old, however, regained his composure to win the next frame.

O’Sullivan then won the final frame before the interval to lead 3-1 in the first to 13 frames match.

Ronnie O’Sullivan versus Hossein Vafaei.

Vafaei’s break-off appeared to be a copy of a shot O’Sullivan played in a match between the pair.

At the German Masters in 2021, the Iranian player accused O’Sullivan of ‘disrespect’ after ‘The Rocket’ smashed up the red balls from a break-off shot when he was trailing 4-0.

Vafaei went on to win the match 5-0 and there has been tension between the pair ever since.

Ahead of Friday’s game, Vafaei said that O’Sullivan is ‘a nice person… when he is asleep.’ He also said that the world champion, a frequent critic of the sport, should ‘retire.’

“I like him a lot, I am his fan, I love what he does but sometimes he’s disrespectful, he’s not good for the game,” Vafaei told The Metro.

“I think he should retire, to be honest with you. He should retire and then the younger generation make the game bigger.”

O’Sullivan, 47, responded by saying that Vafaei shouldn’t ‘rattle my cage.’

“Has he been saying much this year? I think he’s learned to be quiet. Don’t rattle my cage! I’m just having fun,” O’Sullivan said on Eurosport.

“I love it when they call me out, I love it when they give me stick.

“I love it, it turns me on. I get off on it. I need it to fire me up so I’m hoping someone says something.

“So I can have a reason to perform. But they’re not going to say it now, they probably realise it’s not a good tactic.”

Read next: The Ultimate World Snooker Championship quiz.