Shaun Murphy was unhappy following his UK Open exit, stating his victor Si Jiahu should not be in the tournament, on account of being an amateur: “It’s wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who’s not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am”
Last Updated: 24/11/21 1:03pm
Shaun Murphy said amateurs should not be allowed to play in professional snooker tournaments after he lost in the first round of the UK championship to 19-year-old Si Jiahui.
The 39-year-old, who was UK champions in 2008 and runner-up in the World Championship this year, fought back from 5-1 down to level the match but lost the deciding frame to the Chinese amateur.
Murphy, who has won more than four million pounds in prize money in his career, vented his frustration after the defeat in York on Tuesday.
“I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament,” Murphy, known as the Magician, told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s not fair, it’s not right… I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood. This is our living. We’re self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team.”
Si is competing as an amateur due to falling off the main tour at the end of last season and takes on 49-year-old veteran Dominic Dale in the second round.
“The other 127 runners and riders in the tournament, it’s their livelihood too. It’s wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who’s not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am,” Murphy added.
“He played like a man who does not have a care in the world, because he does not have a care in the world. I’m not picking on him as a young man, he deserved his victory.
“This is how I put food on the table. This is how I earn money. Since turning professional at 15, I’ve earned the right to call myself a professional snooker player. He hasn’t done that.”
Murphy later said on Instagram he had been playing with a severe injury.
World Snooker Tour issued a robust response, saying it “strongly disagreed” with Murphy’s claims and insisting the opportunity for young amateur players to compete on the biggest stage formed a “crucial part” of their development.
The organisation said in a statement: “Si Jiahui earns a place in ranking tournaments this season as one of the leading players on the 2021 Q-School rankings.
“While he may have amateur status, he deserves his place in our events, based on his results.
“Amateurs play under the same rules as professionals, they can earn prize money and places on the World Snooker Tour based on results.
“Many elite amateur players like Si Jiahui train and compete full-time in the hope of earning a guaranteed tour place, therefore they are competing under significant pressure with no guarantees.
“Providing opportunities for the best amateur players is important for our growth as a sport and that is something that Shaun benefitted from during his early days as a player.
“We have come a very long way as a global sport over the past decade and that has partly been down to the structures we have built both at professional and grassroots level worldwide.
“For the best young players, the chance to compete on the big stage is a crucial part of their development and the development of the sport as a whole.
“We respect Shaun’s opinions, but in this case we strongly disagree with his comments.”
For those on the move, we will have the Snooker & Pool season covered via our website skysports.com/more-sports, our app for mobile devices, or our Twitter account @skysportspool for latest news and reports.