The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) has announced that Simon Lichtenberg will be granted a two-year Main Tour card.
Lichtenberg brilliantly became Germany’s first champion in a major international amateur tournament when he claimed the European Under-21 Championship in Sofia last week.
However, his success immediately took on a sour note after it was revealed that his national federation had not signed up to the new World Snooker Federation before an end of January deadline.
The WPBSA had previously outlined that any winner of the European Men’s or Under-21 titles in Bulgaria would only be awarded with tour cards, as had traditionally been the case for years, if the champion’s national federation was also a member of the WSF.
There was very quickly a rally call from various circles hoping that a u-turn could be made and a decision taken to allow a gifted young player the opportunity to join the higher ranks.
Between the formation of the WSF in 2017 and a simultaneous and well-documented blowup between the WPBSA and the International Billiards and Snooker Federation, snooker’s politics looked like getting in the way of an emerging talent’s dream – and it appeared additionally damaging as the player in question came from one of the most important emerging countries in the sport.
Thankfully, sense has prevailed on this occasion and the WPBSA has taken the correct steps to ensure that 20 year-old Lichtenberg will join countryman Lukas Kleckers on the circuit from next season.
The WPBSA statement read: “Although it was made clear at the outset of the competition that the World Snooker tour card would be available to players nominated from a National Federation that was a member of the World Snooker Federation (WSF), the National Federation for snooker in Germany (the DBU) took the decision not to join the WSF.”
“This was despite the closing date for membership being extended from 16th January to 31st January 2018.
“It is very disappointing that the result of that decision is that the EBSA Under 21 winner Simon Lichtenberg has not yet been offered a place to compete on the World Snooker Tour.
“Neither the WSF or EBSA wish to see any player being prejudiced by a negative approach taken by their National Federation.
“The WSF and EBSA have carefully considered the case regarding the EBSA Under 21 Champion Simon Lichtenberg.
“It is our view that politics should play no part in the sport and should not impact on the future career of a young and talented player.
“Taking into account the exceptional individual circumstances of this case, the decision has now been taken to allow Simon Lichtenberg to take up a 2 year tour card to compete on the World Snooker Tour beginning in the 2018/19 season.
“It is expected that the DBU will become a member of the WSF.
“Should membership be received before the 1st of March, further opportunities will also be available to amateur players from Germany to qualify for the tour and earn additional places in the 2018 World Snooker Championships in Sheffield.
“Entry to the WSF Championships are only permitted from the growing number WSF member federations.
“It has been made clear that there are no barriers to membership of the WSF, official national and regional federations can remain a member of any other organisation they wish to affiliate to.
“The WSF exists as the recognised pathway to the World Snooker Tour and to ensure alongside the WPBSA that there is a strict code of governance in place for our sport.
“Its mission is to provide playing opportunities in major events, prepare and educate elite performing amateur players for a long and successful career in our sport.”