Ronnie O’Sullivan claimed referee Olivier Marteel was “looking for trouble” after an extraordinary exchange during the World Championship final.
Marteel halted proceedings in the final frame of Sunday’s first session after taking offence at something O’Sullivan did – but would not reveal what it was.
O’Sullivan hit back, telling him to go and check the cameras, while Judd Trump was also left fuming as the delay ran the risk of impacting his next shot.
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The six-time world champion walked off without shaking Marteel’s hand after Trump held his nerve to reduce his lead to 5-3 at the end of the first session.
When asked by Eurosport’s Rachel Casey about the incident, O’Sullivan said: “I think he just seems to be looking for trouble. I just get a vibe from the guy.
“They’ve got hundreds of cameras out there, they can go and check them all, slow motion them down.
“He’s trying to say… I’ll let the ref talk to you but I’m not going to have any of it because I think he’s just trying to create something. He needs to deal with that, not me.”
‘Looking for trouble’ - O’Sullivan on referee Marteel
WHAT HAPPENED BETWEEN O'SULLIVAN AND MARTEEL?
O’Sullivan was steamrolling his way towards the eighth frame when he accidentally pinned himself behind the blue when playing up the table for the yellow.
He then attempted to play safe off the yellow but missed the ball completely as the white darted around the table and into the black for a seven-point foul.
Trump was ready to swoop in but before the 2019 champion could play a shot, Marteel made a beeline for O’Sullivan in his chair.
Here’s how an extraordinary conversation unfolded:
*voices initially inaudible*
O’Sullivan: “What did you see?”
Referee: “I saw it.”
O’Sullivan: “Come on, what did you see?”
Referee: “I’m not going to say it on TV.”
O’Sullivan: “You tell me what you saw. You saw nothing. Go and look at the camera. You saw nothing.”
O’Sullivan, pointing at the referee: “Don’t start.”
Referee, walking away: “I’m not.”
O’Sullivan: “Go and check the camera.”
Then Trump, who was upset at the interruption as he weighed up a huge shot in the context of the match, got involved.
Referee: “I had to say something, Judd.”
Trump: “You could have said it after the game.”
After a long stoppage, Trump got down and dispatched the yellow to rapturous applause in the Crucible. He duly dispatched the rest of the colours to snatch the frame and erode O’Sullivan’s lead.
“Well when I said it’s had everything, it really has now,” said David Hendon on Eurosport commentary.
“That was quite extraordinary what happened there actually.”
‘You should be very forceful as a referee’ – McManus and White on O’Sullivan-ref spat
WAS MARTEEL RIGHT TO PAUSE THE MATCH?
Jimmy White and Alan McManus gave their views about the incident in the Eurosport studio.
“I felt a bit for Trump there because it’s Trump’s shot and the referee is sitting in Ronnie O’Sullivan’s corner,” said White.
“I think he maybe should have waited until after the game.”
However, McManus defended Marteel and said he did not have an easy job.
“I think he has to be proactive and in the moment,” he said.
“If he thinks anything untoward has happened he’s got to be all over it and direct the traffic out there, that’s his job. Do your job.
“You should be very forceful as a referee. Maybe in that moment, it’s discretion.
“Trump has got a big yellow, tail end of the session, last two minutes of the session. Maybe wait?
“But that’s not a criticism of Olivier Marteel. He’s got a tough job out there. It’s not an easy call, it’s a tough job.”
Stream the World Championship and other top snooker live and on-demand on discovery+. You can also watch all the action live on eurosport.co.uk.
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