Ronnie O'Sullivan riles World Snooker's Barry Hearn with Berlin no-show
• 'He was my flag bearer but he's dropped the flag'
• O'Sullivan has played exhibition matches in UK
Ronnie O'Sullivan, who has pulled out of an event in Berlin, playing in the Snooker Shoot-Out in Blackpool. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action Images
Ronnie O'Sullivan's withdrawal from the German Masters, which began in Berlin tonight, has been described as "very disappointing" by World Snooker's chairman, Barry Hearn.
"When I took over [last June] he was my flag-bearer but now he's dropped the flag," said Hearn, whose patience had already been tried by O'Sullivan's withdrawal from the Shanghai Masters, where he was defending champion, and 10 of the 12 new minor-ranking events, some without notification, absences which have contributed to him sinking to 10th in the rankings. He is already facing disciplinary action for some of his absences.
O'Sullivan is understood to have a medical certificate, which World Snooker has asked to see, but whatever may be the problem it did not prevent him playing a sellout online exhibition in Blackburn on Tuesday – when he and Jimmy White made six centuries in eight frames – or at World Snooker's One Frame Shoot-Out in Blackpool over the weekend, when he made two centuries and a 90 in four frames before losing in the semi-finals.
"I don't care if Ronnie doesn't play but what he can't do is enter and pull out at the last minute, without very good reason," Hearn said. "It's his face on all the posters in Germany; it's a very important tournament for us as we try to develop the European market and an awful lot of people are going to be disappointed he's not there. This can't go on. Ronnie's very likeable when he wants to be but he should start considering his future in the game and his responsibilities to it."
Tonight, the participation of Neil Robertson is also in doubt. "What with Ronnie and a world champion who's lost his passport, what chance have you got?" said Hearn, who was exasperated in November when Robertson got on the wrong train and arrived for a Premier League match in Llandudno with only five minutes to spare, one of his long list of such adventures.
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