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Shaun Murphy hits back at Hossein Vafaei over Crucible comments

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Murphy has his say (Photo credit: Richard Sellers/Alamy Stock)

Shaun Murphy has branded Hossein Vafaei’s remarks over the Crucible conditions as “sacrilege” and has urged him to stay away if he is unhappy with the venue.

Vafaei unleashed a remarkable rant following his First Round defeat to Judd Trump on Sunday, insisting The Crucible “smells really bad” and calling for the tournament to be relocated to Saudi Arabia or China.

Speculation has been mounting over a possible move away from the sport’s spiritual home when the current contract ends in 2027, with Saudi Arabia emerging as the leading contender to host the event.

Speaking after his 10-5 win over Lyu Haotian on Monday, Murphy was quick to condemn Vafaei’s comments, insisting they are unhelpful to the sport.

“Listen, this is a working theatre, it’s not a purpose-built snooker venue,” said Murphy. “We’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of snooker being here.

“If World Snooker turned up tomorrow to do a site visit, they probably wouldn’t come here because it’s not big enough. There’s nothing we can do about that.

“But this is holy ground and it’s almost sacrilege for a professional snooker player to be so openly critical about our home. Hossein should educate himself on how our tour work and the relationships with WST and our broadcast partners, our venues and how special these places are.

“Does he think he’s helping the sport grow by being so openly critical of one of our business partners? He hasn’t helped the sport at all and I was always taught by my mum, if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything.”

“Maybe not having grown up in the UK he’s not as emotionally connected to this tournament as many of the UK players are. I think that’s just a geographical thing. Perhaps it’s not as special to Hossein as the rest of us.

“He said he doesn’t want to come back…don’t come back. He doesn’t have to, he’s not forced to come here. Don’t come.”

Sheffield’s 980-capacity Crucible Theatre has hosted the World Championship since 1977, and Murphy believes it should continue to do so despite the logistical constraints.

“I don’t want the snooker to leave here, I want specifically the World Championship – I don’t think they should have any other event here,” he added.

“The World Championship, in my opinion, should stay in this building, but it’s economics isn’t it? It’s our biggest event in our smallest building.

“Conservatively, WST could probably sell the place out five times over, 10 times for the final. I don’t know.

“It can’t carry on as it is. I think when our contract ends…I’m sure that’s already being talked about. But I don’t think anyone wants to leave apart from Hossein and Ronnie O’Sullivan. I think everyone else wants it to stay. But it can’t stay as it is and something will have to give.”