LONDON (Reuters) – Former champion Shaun Murphy said amateurs should not be allowed to play in professional snooker tournaments after he lost in the first round of the UK championship to 19-year-old Si Jiahui.
The 39-year-old, who was runner-up in the world championship this year, fought back from 5-1 down to level the match but lost the deciding frame to the Chinese amateur.
Murphy, who has won more than four million pounds ($5.34 million) in prize money in his career, vented his frustration after the defeat in York on Tuesday.
“I’m going to sound like a grumpy old man but that young man shouldn’t be in the tournament,” Murphy, known as the Magician, told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“It’s not fair, it’s not right… I don’t know why we as a sport allow amateurs to compete in professional tournaments. This is our livelihood. This is our living. We’re self-employed individuals and not contracted sportsmen. We don’t play for a team.”
Si is competing as an amateur due to falling off the main tour at the end of last season and takes on 49-year-old veteran Dominic Dale in the second round.
“The other 127 runners and riders in the tournament, it’s their livelihood too. It’s wrong, in my opinion, to walk into somebody who’s not playing with the same pressures and concerns I am,” Murphy added.
“He played like a man who does not have a care in the world, because he does not have a care in the world. I’m not picking on him as a young man, he deserved his victory.
“This is how I put food on the table. This is how I earn money. Since turning professional at 15, I’ve earned the right to call myself a professional snooker player. He hasn’t done that.”
Murphy later said on Instagram that he had been playing with a severe injury.
($1 = 0.7484 pounds)
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Shrivathsa Sridhar)