Ursenbacher Withdraws From Wuxi Classic


A brief line of news that came out on World Snooker’s Twitter feed yesterday was that Swiss starlet Alexander Ursenbacher has been forced to withdraw from the upcoming Wuxi Classic due to visa problems…

It is always a shame to see a player forced to miss out on a tournament due to external influences such as this and in this case the disappointment is compounded by the fact that Alex will now lose the £3,000 and equivalent ranking points earned from his hard-fought 5-4 win against Kyren Wilson in his first round match last month.

In previous seasons this would not have been the case, but as stated within the WPBSA ranking schedule for the 2014/15 season:

“Players who qualify for the final stages of an event but do not subsequently attend that event, for whatever reason, will not receive any prize money, nor will they receive any contribution towards the prize money rankings.”

Is this correct? The reaction that I have received on Twitter has been generally negative and given that this is presumably something beyond Alex’s control, it does seem harsh that he is penalised in this way.

On the other hand, I can understand the logic of the rule, which is presumably aimed at discouraging players from qualifying for overseas events in the UK and then electing to withdraw from the venue stages for more tenuous reasons.

Either way, the beneficiary from Ursenbacher’s problems will be defending champion Neil Robertson, who now receives a bye to the last 32 in Wuxi.

  • mics147

    The new rule is aweful! It makes sense when a player pulls out without a serious reason, but what can you do when you have visa problems, injuries, health problems, funerals etc.? World Snooker should think about the rule again, it is just unfair in most of the cases!

  • http://snookerinfo.webs.com/ SnookerInfo147

    ‘for whatever reason’, think they should change that, the rule itself is not stupid, I see why they have created this rule but in circumstances such as these it is not fair at all.

    My brother just said to me what if Ali Carter had played the qualifiers, then not being able to go to venue due to his current circumstances, I know its a different thing but still worth thinking about…

    • E JONES

      i honestly think world snooker will take each case on merit and not have a blanket rule, if its a genuine problem its easy enough to work it out and award the player with cash and ranking points when it has been resolved why a player pulled out and was it a genuine problem or a player trying a fast one.

  • JIMO96

    There will always be problems like this so long as qualifying rounds are held separately. The WSA are right. You only have to look at the withdrawals from last seasons Indian Open; it got beyond silly. But the WSA created the problem themselves. Solution: if there are 128 players on tour, take them ALL to the country where the tournament is being held. If anyone subsequently withdraws, they can be replaced by wildcards.

    Unfortunately we don’t know who is to blame here. Maybe Alex left it too late to apply for a visa, and if that is true then he deserves to lose his points. If not, then WS need to solve this increasingly annoying problem. Players lose out on visas and WS issue no statement of regret or blame, it’s forgotten about and the tour moves on. It is frankly, disgraceful.

  • Monique

    I’m not overly interested in politics and I don’t know if there are particular difficulties between Switzerland and China. If not this is really surprising. Getting a visa for China is usually a lot easier than getting a visa for the UK or the US. I have friends from Eastern Europe countries who attended their first snooker live tournaments in China, because obtaining a visa for China was so much simpler than getting one for the UK. So I wonder if indeed, Alexander left it too late or made some administrative mistake.

    Otherwise, the rule is very harsh but the players – well some of them – brought it upon themselves. There were far too many withdrawals for some tournaments last season, India in particular. Getting the money and “points” was unfair both to the ones who made the effort to travel and lost early and to the ones who were honest enough not to enter when they did not intend to travel. It’s a shame as always that now some “innocents” will “pay” for those who tried to abuse the system.

  • Alan Moroney

    He should get the points and money – it is not his fault that he cannot go, and this could cost him his tour card.

    • E JONES

      you could argue that playing in main ranking events wont win him his tour card having won only 1,600 last season and he might have’nt tried hard enough to get a visa thinking visa issues would guarante him £3,000 in the bank £1,400 more than last season already.

      he might have thought shit im playing Robertson i might aswell not try hard enough to get the visa then ill have saved money on travel.

      im not saying that is the case but in future players wont rest on their arses when it comes to getting visas and real genuine problems like Hossain Ayouri wont be taken advantage of by players.

      • Alan Moroney

        But the point is, he won a match to get there – could not, and if at end of season he is between 1 and 3000 points short of staying on tour, it is not fair.

        As regards Hossain Ayouri and others, Hearn should threaten to take all snooker qualifying other than for actual UK event to another more VISA friendly country if situation does not change.

        If a tennis player could not get a visa for Wimbledon or any other main tour ATP event, unless the reason was that that player had committed an offence in UK, the evnt would automatically be stripped of World ranking points.

        • fridge46

          An event similar to what you have described has actually happened. An Israeli player qualified on merit for the 2009 Dubai Tennis Championships, but they were refused a visa to play on political grounds.

          The tournament was fined $300,000 (apparent a record at the time), the player in question was compensated an amount equal their average prize money for the year prior, and given a guaranteed spot in the 2010 edition. Addtionally, Dubai was demanded to provide visas for all Israeli players a least 8 weeks in advance.

          Also, leading players withdrew from the event in support of the player.

          • Alan Moroney

            But not an ATP event – that was the WTA women’s tour, who seem to operate under different rules.

  • mics147

    Maybe WS should do a compromise in these cases and give Alex 1,500 pounds for example.

  • swsacue

    I brought this potential issue up in an email to Barry Hearn after a meeting in Barnsley during qualifying last December.

    Firstly there is a legal question of a person not receiving payment for work carried out. (It’s not the same as stopping seeded players receiving money and or points for entering but not attending as was the case before). This time a player has played in the tournament and earned money which he will not receive.
    Matt, as a lawyer you may know the answer whether restrictive clauses can be put in tournament conditions/ contract which basically removes a persons legal right to be paid for work completed?

    What if someone was having a garage built, with a contract to build the entire garage. After he had completed the foundations the builder became ill, to the degree that he could not complete the works. would the person using the builder have to pay him for the foudations or not?

    My suggestion was to have a new tier of prize money so that the winner of the final qualifying round, before the venue, receives a smaller prize which would at least be enough to pay the travel costs to China or wherever the tournament is held. This amount can be paid in advance to relieve the burden of travel costs to the player. The balance of the original allocated prize for that round would be paid to the loser of the first round at the venue. The costs to the promotors would be the same if all the players travelled, but less if some did not travel, and it would encourage players to travel as they would receive the full prize only if they travelled and played.

    • E JONES

      problem is some players might qualify without any intention to go if they are faced with the likes of Selby or Robertson. something has got to be done to stop that sort of scenario happening.

      • ANON

        I’m afraid Bazza is spot on with is tweets – some players took advantage last year, even if they entered the events intending to go to the venue, taking the £3k then not travelling to China / India effectively made their qualifier a best of 7 / 9 / 11 money match. Chinese sponsors are probably phlegmatic (at best) about having to pay £3k to [insert name of any European player apart from Steve Davis or Jimmy ranked 32 or above] for winning a qualifier in some sports hall on the other side of the world, so it must upset them when said players don’t even turn up.

        Getting a visa for China is a faff (as anyone who has made the mistake of queuing for 2 hours outside Portland Place just to hand in the form will know). Basically in the time between the qualifiers and the event there isn’t enough time unless you use an Agent. Not sure what the story is with Ursenbacher, but wasn’t Jason Ferguson trying to sort out some way that players could get a multiple entry visa at the start of the year (to avoid this sort of stuff happening)?

  • Oreos4eskimos .

    Barry’s response on the matter here’s the conversation https://twitter.com/CueTracker_Ron/status/480681328820899840

    • Matt

      Cheers, hadn’t seen that. Thanks all for the comments so far, good to have a debate about these things and I can very much see both sides.