Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Four top snooker stars took bribes claims Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins

Alex Higgins
This close-up picture of Alex Higgins taken by Ulster photographer Cathal McNaughton
Alex Higgins

Ex-world snooker champ Alex Higgins has claimed that at least four top players have taken bribes to lose tournament matches.

The 61-year-old was speaking after it emerged that his unrelated namesake John Higgins was facing bribery allegations.

Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins said he turned down several big-money offers to throw games in his career.

“The names [of the four players] would shock the public if it was proved,” he told Sunday Life.

“But I know there are plenty of repulsive professional players who have thrown games for bookies.”

He added: “Just because they wear crisp white shirts doesn't make them clean — it's all going on right under people's noses.”

Belfast-born Higgins, world champ in 1972 and 1982, referred to a “plague” of bribery, betting scams and cheats in the game.

He claimed Greek gamblers offered him £18,000 in 1979 to lose his Benson & Hedges Masters quarter-final against Perrie Mans and £20,000 to cheat at the Irish Masters in 1989 but rejected both.

“I wanted nothing to do with any of them. I couldn't live with myself if I did it,” he said.

Twice-wed Higgins, who now weighs 6st 7lbs, has been fighting a long battle with throat cancer, and was also hospitalised with severe pneumonia last month.

John Higgins is currently suspended from tournaments pending an inquiry into allegations in the News of the World.

Fellow Scots Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett are awaiting the outcome of a police inquiry into betting patterns on their UK Championship match in 2008.

And England's Stephen Lee is currently on bail as part of an inquiry by West Midlands Police into suspicious betting patterns.

Meanwhile John Higgins has said he will “vigorously defend” himself in the face of match-fixing allegations and again insisted he is “100% innocent”.

Higgins was filmed by undercover News of the World reporters who accused him of match-fixing. Yesterday the newspaper reported that he had tried to bet against himself in last year's World Championship final. He faces disciplinary proceedings by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association.

He said: “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% innocent.”

The News of the World yesterday quoted an unnamed former Ladbrokes employee who claimed Higgins tried to bet against himself in the world championship final. The bet was turned down.

A spokesman for the bookmaker said it would not comment on customers' confidential details.

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