19 January 2024

Saudi Arabia to host new snooker event with added 20-point golden ball in Riyadh

19 January 2024

Saudi Arabia will host its first ever invitational snooker event with the introduction of a new golden ball which could increase the maximum break to 167, the World Snooker Tour has announced.

The inaugural Riyadh Season World Masters of Snooker will take place in March and seven-time world champion Ronnie O’Sullivan is set to feature in the 10-player field alongside 2019 world champion Judd Trump and current holder Luca Brecel.

The tournament will see the introduction of a 23rd golden ball, known as the Riyadh Season ball, which will be worth 20 points, however, this can only be potted once a maximum break of 147 has been completed.

The three-day event will take place at Boulevard Arena in Boulevard City, Riyadh, from March 4-6.

Snooker will join a host of other sports to take place in Saudi Arabia in recent years after a deal was confirmed between CEO of General Entertainment Authority Faisal Bafarat and the chairman of World Snooker Tour Steve Dawson, alongside Saudi advisor Turki Alalshikh and sports promoters Eddie Hearn and Barry Hearn.

Dawson said: “It is a great privilege for the World Snooker Tour to work in partnership with HE Advisor Turki Alalshikh to stage an event in Saudi Arabia for the first time.

“This is a huge breakthrough for snooker into a new territory, and we see this as the beginning of a new adventure for our sport in the region.

“We are looking forward to being a part of Riyadh Season on this fantastic new event featuring the world’s best players.

“We will be honoured to bring our sport to the amazing city of Riyadh, and for the local fans this will be their first chance to see some of snooker’s all-time greats.”

Eddie Hearn confirmed the event will feature the top eight players in the world including two wildcards and a prize pool of one million US dollars.

Trump believes snooker heading to Saudi Arabia is “amazing” for the sport.

He told World Snooker Tour on X: “It’s amazing for snooker to be going to different places.

“It’s amazing to be going back to China and feel appreciated again.

“I think we are seeing snooker in new territories now with exhibitions popping up in different places and it’s amazing that Saudi Arabia want to get involved.”

Amnesty International urged snooker’s leading stars to seize the opportunity to speak out about human rights abuses.

Peter Frankental, Amnesty International UK’s Economic Affairs director, said: “It was just a matter of time before Saudi Arabia’s huge sportswashing machine sucked in snooker along with almost every other major world sport.

“If the likes of Ronnie O’Sullivan and Judd Trump play in Riyadh, they shouldn’t hesitate to speak out about human rights.”

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