Snooker: Hann faces inquiry over 'match-fixing' claim

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The Independent Online

Quinten Hann, cleared of sexual assault on Monday, now finds himself facing an investigation from snooker's governing body for allegedly agreeing to throw a match for money.

Quinten Hann, cleared of sexual assault on Monday, now finds himself facing an investigation from snooker's governing body for allegedly agreeing to throw a match for money.

The 27-year-old from Melbourne, who has established a controversial reputation within the game, was the subject of a "sting" operation by the Sun newspaper, which reported that he had agreed to accept £50,000 to lose a match at the China Open.

The paper said Hann, currently world-ranked 22nd, had made the deal with one of its undercover reporters posing as a frontman for an illegal betting syndicate during the World Championship qualifying tournament in March.

The newspaper also alleged that Hann had offered to fix the result of a match at last month's World Championships in Sheffield's Crucible arena. The story was not published until after Hann's trial at Isleworth Crown Court - where he was found not guilty of sexually assaulting two women - for fear it might prejudice his case.

Hann's lawyer, Adam Mir, said yesterday that his client had not yet released any comment, but that a statement might be forthcoming once the case had been fully discussed.

A spokesman for the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (also known as World Snooker) said: "The WPBSA is aware of an allegation of match fixing made by the Sun newspaper against one of its members. The WPBSA treat any such allegations seriously.

"Like any other sport, the WPBSA has procedures in place to address these allegations. Until these procedures have been completed, the WPBSA will not be commenting further."

Sir Rodney Walker, the WPBSA chairman, said the process was under way, adding: "We work on the principle of English justice - a man is innocent until proved otherwise."

Although Hann was beaten 5-2 by the former world champion Ken Doherty at the China Open, and was subsequently defeated 10-2 in the first round of the World Championships, there is no suggestion that he deliberately lost any matches and the newspaper says it did not proceed with the alleged deal.

But the paper claimed it had secret film footage of Hann agreeing to deal with one of its undercover reporters, and quoted the Australian as saying: "Listen, you want me to lose 5-0? I'll lose 10-0. I don't care. I'm a businessman. I just want to make money."

The report also claimed Hann said he had "no problems" with throwing a game at the World Championships.

Hann's mother, Amanda, said in Melbourne yesterday that the allegations against her son were a joke and that he knew he was being set up.

"I've been on the phone to him three or four times today," she said. "Of course he's not worried about the story. He thinks it's absolutely hilarious. All I say is 'Bring on the charges, bring on the court case'."

"Quinten knew he was a journalist and that is why he didn't take the money. He thought it was amusing this fellow was trying to hand him [the money] and he didn't fall for that bait. It's his career, his living, and he's not stupid."

Hann ascribed his defeat in Sheffield last month to the effects of a hangover and having to use a new cue after having his original one stolen. Two years ago he became the first Australian since Eddie Charlton to reach the last 16 at the World Championships, but a year earlier his conduct had been described by commentator Dennis Taylor as "ungentlemanly" after he crashed the cue ball into the pack of reds a number of times.

At last season's World Championships he became involved in an angry exchange of words with opponent Andy Hicks after losing 10-4 in the first round, forcing the referee to intervene.

Hann challenged Hicks to a fight at the Crucible and ended up in a boxing ring against another English snooker player, Mark King, the world number 22, in a sanctioned fight over four rounds at York Hall in Bethnal Green, a fight which Hann won.

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