Snooker: Angry Higgins vows to clear his name in face of fresh allegations

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The Independent Online

Former world champion John Higgins said he would "vigorously defend" himself in the face of fresh allegations yesterday that he had agreed to fix a match, and again insisted he was "100 per cent innocent".

The Scot said in a statement that the past few days had been "emotionally draining for me and my family". He said: "In the last week I have experienced a whole range of emotions: despair, frustration, anger, rage and most of all a sense of betrayal."

Higgins was filmed by undercover News of the World reporters who have accused him of agreeing to fix a match. He said that he believed the meeting with the journalists was to arrange a series of tournaments to be played in the Ukraine.

Yesterday the newspaper also alleged that he had tried to bet against himself while playing in last year's World Championship final.

In the statement released after the new allegations, the 34-year-old pointed out that he is a director of World Series Snooker, which has been working to expand the sport into new markets.

He said that he met representatives from a company called Alpha Equity on 29 April this year to explore possibilities in the Ukraine. Higgins said: "Over the last three years I have spent a lot of my time and effort to expand snooker into new territories. I wanted to take the magic of snooker to towns, cities and countries where people had only ever seen snooker on television.

"I wanted to act as an ambassador to spread that magic of snooker throughout the world. Despite the events of last week, it is something I believe in from the bottom of my heart."

The three-times world champion is subject to disciplinary proceedings by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association over the allegations.

He said: "In the proceedings I will vigorously defend my name. As you will appreciate, I cannot comment on details that may impact on these disciplinary matters.

"I have been accused in the media of cheating; I have been accused of planning to fix snooker matches. To both of those charges, I am 100 per cent innocent.

"Snooker is my life. Snooker has been good to me and I hope that over the years I have been good for snooker.

"I will repeat again what I said in my earlier statement. I have never been involved in any form of snooker match-fixing. In my 18 years playing professional snooker I have never deliberately missed a shot, never mind intentionally losing a frame or a match."

Higgins went on: "I will not allow anyone to damage my hard-earned reputation. I will clear my name. I am determined of that."

The News of the World yesterday quoted an unnamed former Ladbrokes employee who claimed that Higgins had tried to bet against himself in the World Championship final when up against Shaun Murphy. She took advice from a manager and the bet was turned down. A spokesman for the bookmaker said it would not comment on customers' confidential details.

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