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World Snooker Championship should move from 'smelly' Crucible, says Hossein Vafaei - 'No one looks after the players'

Hossein Vafaei slams The Crucible and wants World Snooker Championship moved to another venue: "It smells really bad. You go to other countries and everything is shiny. Here it's completely different. The practice room - do you see anything special? I feel like I'm practising in a garage"

Hossein Vafaei (PA Images)
Image: Hossein Vafaei says players do not get looked after at The Crucible and that the venue 'smells'

Hossein Vafaei says the World Snooker Championship should be moved from the "smelly" Crucible, saying the practice facilities at the Sheffield venue are" like playing in a garage" and that "no one looks after the players".

Speaking after a 10-5 first-round defeat to one of the tournament favourites Judd Trump, Iranian Vafaei could not hide his dislike of the arena which has staged the World Championship every year since 1977.

Seven-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan - who begins his campaign against Jackson Page on Wednesday afternoon - suggested last week that the competition should move to China or Saudi Arabia when the Crucible contract expires in 2027.

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Ronnie O'Sullivan says if the World Snooker Championship was relocated to Saudi Arabia then he would find the tournament more convenient

Vafaei said: "Everything's so bad - if you ask me if I want to come back here, I would tell you no way. Forget the history, you want to go somewhere really nice as a player.

"You walk round 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.

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

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The World Snooker Tour responded in a statement, saying: "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."

Murphy springs to defence of Crucible after 'smelly' comments

Shaun Murphy acknowledges the crowd after winning his first round match against Lyu Haotian (not pictured) on day three of the 2024 Cazoo World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield. Picture date: Monday April 22, 2024.
Image: Shaun Murphy has described criticism of snooker's fabled Crucible as 'sacrilege

Former world champion Shaun Murphy accused rival Vafaei of "sacrilege" after the Iranian launched a scathing attack on the conditions at the Crucible Theatre.

Murphy, who swept to victory over Lyu Haotian, jumped to the defence of the Crucible, which has hosted every World Championship since 1977.

He said: "This is holy ground. It's almost sacrilege for a professional snooker player to be so openly critical of our home. "Hossein should educate himself on how our tour works in relationships with
the WST and our broadcast partners, and what a special place this is.

"Does he think he is helping our sport grow by being so openly critical of one of our biggest partners? He has not helped the sport at all."

Murphy, who is based in Sheffield and won the world title as a qualifier in 2005, conceded the Crucible has its problems but said he hoped it would find a way to extend its historic association with the sport.

"We're coming up to the 50th anniversary of snooker being here and if the World Snooker Tour turned up tomorrow and did a site visit they would probably not come here because it's not big enough, but there's nothing we can do about that," added Murphy.

"I don't want the snooker to leave here. I don't think anyone wants to leave apart from Hossein and Ronnie O'Sullivan. Everyone else wants to stay but it can't stay as it is."

Who went through and who went out on Sunday?

Judd Trump toughed out a deciding frame to beat Kyren Wilson in the first round of the Masters
Image: Judd Trump is into the second round at The Crucible after beating Hossein Vafaei 10-5

Third seed Trump - looking for his second World Championship title, after triumphing in 2019, and sixth ranking tournament victory of the 2023-24 season - will play Tom Ford in the last 16 after Ford, the 14th seed, overcame Ricky Walden 10-6 for his maiden win at the Crucible.

Ninth seed Ali Carter - who lost to O'Sullivan in the 2008 and 2012 World Championship finals - was dumped out in the first round by Stephen Maguire, losing 10-7.

Maguire will next face Shaun Murphy after the 2005 world champion saw off Lyu Haotian 10-5.

Four-time world champion Mark Selby will require a huge comeback to make the next round after falling 7-2 down to Joe O'Connor after the first session.

Selby, who questioned his future in the sport after losing to Gary Wilson in the Tour Championship earlier this month, and O'Connor are back in action from 2.30pm on Monday.

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