Hossein Vafaei
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Hossein Vafaei – ‘It smells really bad’

Hossein Vafaei criticised the Crucible Theatre after losing his World Snooker Championship first round match to Judd Trump on Sunday.

The Iranian, no stranger to making controversial comments, said the venue smelled and compared the practice room to a garage.

Vafaei was speaking in the immediate aftermath of his 10-5 defeat to Trump on day two of the 2024 World Snooker Championship in Sheffield.

The former Shoot Out king cut a disgruntled figure in the arena as he squandered numerous opportunities to keep the game closer.

He then took out his frustrations in the press conference as he launched a fiery tirade against the Crucible.

“Everything is so bad,” Hossein Vafaei said. “If you ask me if I want to come back here, I would tell you no way.”

“Forget the history. You want to go somewhere really nice as a player. You walk round the Crucible and it smells really bad.

“You go to other countries, and everything is shiny. But here it’s completely different. The practice room – do you see anything special?

“I feel like I’m practicing in a garage.”

“If they don’t want to lose the Crucible invest some money, make it shinier, make it nicer, make it more luxury for the people.

“If they make it cleaner and nicer, people will enjoy it.”

The future of the Crucible Theatre, which has hosted the tournament since 1977, has been a source of hot debate this year.

The World Championship is contracted to stay at the venue, which intimately can hold just shy of 1,000 people, until 2027.

Beyond that, there is uncertainty as to where snooker’s flagship and most important competition will be played.

China has frequently been rumoured as a potential new destination, while Saudi Arabia has become an even bigger possibility in recent months following the sport’s blossoming ties with Riyadh Season.

Plenty of other players have been questioned on the topic, with opinion divided.

“Where would I stand? I’ve done a big U-turn,” Mark Williams told Sporting Life on Friday’s media day at the Crucible.

“It’s my least favourite venue to play in, I’ve said that from day one. But I’ve always said when it gets down to one table, it turns into the best arena.”

“Years ago, I thought it’d be good if it left. But I’ve done a U-turn, I think it should stay here.

“Yes, you could take it to other parts of the country and maybe have £1 million for the winner in a two, three, or four-thousand seater stadium.

“But how many times do we play in these stadiums of 2,000, and there’s only a couple of hundred there?

“This venue brings the atmosphere and the closeness of it that no other venue could do.

“If you took it somewhere else, or if you knocked this down and built a bigger one, it’s still not going to create the atmosphere it does now.

“There’s only 900 people in there, and it’s packed. It’s sold out every single year, and if you did move it, you’d never generate the atmosphere that this place does.”

Ali Carter and Shaun Murphy were among the players who disagreed, however – stating that, although they love the history of the Crucible, it would be better for the sport to move on.

“I don’t want it to leave here. I want it to stay forever, it’s very special,” 2005 world champion Murphy said.

“But it can’t stay as it is. It’s our biggest event in our smallest venue.”

“In the world we live in, in the arenas we fill around the world to thousands and thousands of people, that can’t continue.”

“If you want to grow an event,” Carter added, “into a truly global event with bigger audiences and better hospitality, it’s got to move to a bigger venue for me.”

“I love playing here, it’s nothing against the Crucible. But we’ve been here 40-odd years.

“If you do the same thing for 40 years, you’re only going to get the same thing, aren’t you?

“It’s a great event. But if it does move, it has to have the chance to build momentum. Look at the Masters.

“That’s, arguably for me, a bigger event than this event. The support it gets, the spectators, the venue is bigger, it’s in London.

“Maybe if it does go abroad, they’ll find the right home for it and it can grow.”

The 2024 tournament, meanwhile, continues on Monday with Williams and Murphy among those in action.


2024 World Snooker Championship Draw

Round 1 (bo19)

Luca Brecel (1) 9-10 David Gilbert
Robert Milkins (16) 10-9 Pang Junxu
Ali Carter (9) 7-10 Stephen Maguire
Shaun Murphy (8) 10-5 Lyu Haotian

Mark Selby (5) 6-10 Joe O’Connor
Kyren Wilson (12) 10-1 Dominic Dale
John Higgins (13) 10-6 Jamie Jones
Mark Allen (4) 10-6 Robbie Williams

Judd Trump (3) 10-5 Hossein Vafaei
Tom Ford (14) 10-6 Ricky Walden
Zhang Anda (11) 4-10 Jak Jones
Mark Williams (6) 9-10 Si Jiahui

Ding Junhui (7) 9-10 Jack Lisowski
Gary Wilson (10) 5-10 Stuart Bingham
Barry Hawkins (15) 8-10 Ryan Day
Ronnie O’Sullivan (2) 10-1 Jackson Page

Round 2 (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-4 Robert Milkins (16)
Stephen Maguire 13-9 Shaun Murphy (8)

Joe O’Connor 6-13 Kyren Wilson (12)
John Higgins (13) 13-12 Mark Allen (4)

Judd Trump (3) 13-7 Tom Ford (14)
Jak Jones 13-9 Si Jiahui

Jack Lisowski 11-13 Stuart Bingham
Ryan Day 7-13 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Quarter-Finals (bo25)

David Gilbert 13-8 Stephen Maguire
Kyren Wilson (12) 13-8 John Higgins (13)

Judd Trump (3) 9-13 Jak Jones
Stuart Bingham 13-10 Ronnie O’Sullivan (2)

Semi-Finals (bo33)

David Gilbert 11-17 Kyren Wilson (12)
Jak Jones 17-12 Stuart Bingham

Final (bo35)

Kyren Wilson (12) 18-14 Jak Jones

Click here for the latest live scores and session times.


Featured photo credit: WST

6 Comments

  1. Sounds like sour grapes plus he is only repeating what O sullivan said about other venues, Hosein a great player but a bit disrespectful, he hasn’t won enough to truly criticise WST choice if venues

  2. Sheffield council just needs to build a bigger crucible, it’s big money for the local area each year I’m sure thry don’t want to lose it , if they do move it,
    please keep it in the UK, move the masters to the crucible and have the worlds in Ali Pally

  3. Wen are you going to get technology in wen replacing the white ball not all this faffing about asking players where it goes. That wat technology for move on David!!

  4. Jay Brannon

    Murphy is totally wrong the Masters is bigger. The World Championship pulls in bigger viewing figures, creating far higher media attention and is comfortably number one for prestige.

    A bigger venue doesn’t mean anything in terms of prestige. Wimbledon is smaller than some venues in tennis but remains the sport’s most hallowed turf.

    Mark Williams has it spit on about how the closeness adds to the atmosphere and the challenge of being the world champion.

  5. Daniel White

    It’s probably perfect for the World Seniors Championship in every way. I doubt that it will still host a ranking tournament after 2027 let alone the world championship.

    • Jay Brannon

      It’s a perfect venue for snooker as this is a sport well suited to the dynamics of a theatre. Try 17 days elsewhere in a venue with 2,000 seats and they might not sell as well as they think. That could then lead to cutting the format which, for me, is more sacrosanct than the Crucible itself.

      The seating is also comfortable for spectators.

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