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Ronnie O’Sullivan to be Saudi snooker ambassador

Saudi Arabia Ronnie O'Sullivan snooker Tai Chengzhe/VCG via Reuters Connect
Ronnie O'Sulliva has defended the controversial 'golden ball' addition to Saudi snooker tournaments
  • Player to mentor young Saudis
  • Deal will last three years
  • Backs ‘golden ball’ addition

Saudi Arabia has signed a deal with the world’s top snooker player, Ronnie O’Sullivan, for him to act as an “ambassador” for the sport in Saudi Arabia. 

It was announced alongside news that Saudi Arabia has become an official sponsor of the World Snooker Championship that begins this weekend in Sheffield, UK.

Under the three-year deal O’Sullivan, the world’s number one ranked player, will mentor young Saudis interested in the sport.

Last month he won the Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker tournament, the first such competition in Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh is trying to promote snooker as part of its broader social and economic transformation plan. 

“These initiatives will act to drive the development of snooker in Saudi Arabia, inspiring a new generation of young fans who idolise the sport’s biggest stars,” Turki Alalshikh, head of the Saudi General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement published on X, formerly Twitter. 

In comments published on 17 April in the UK’s Daily Mail, O’Sullivan defended a controversial “golden ball” rule that Saudi Arabia introduced during the snooker tournament in March.

The rule means that any player who makes a maximum 147-point break can pot a final golden ball that sits on the table throughout the match for an extra $500,000 in prize money. 

The tournament prizes totalled $1 billion but no one won the golden ball. Alalshikh also said the prize money will be doubled to $1 million next year.

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