Ronnie O’Sullivan accuses match referee of ‘looking for trouble’ in the World Championship final

‘Don’t start!’: Ronnie O’Sullivan argues with referee after being accused of making an obscene gesture in World Snooker  Championship final, then says the official was ‘looking for trouble’… before taking a commanding 12-5 lead over Judd Trump

  • Ronnie O’Sullivan and referee Olivier Marteel were involved in angry exchange
  • Marteel appeared to accuse O’Sullivan of making an obscene gesture
  • But ‘The Rocket’ pleaded his innocence by insisting to double check footage
  • O’Sullivan then said in an interview that Marteel was ‘just looking for trouble’ 

The many sides of Ronnie O’Sullivan were on show during an absorbing and explosive first day of the World Snooker Championship final in which he accused referee Olivier Marteel of ‘looking for trouble’.

Laser-focused to level Stephen Hendry’s seven Crucible titles, O’Sullivan has blown Judd Trump away, holding a 12-5 lead on Sunday night.

But a high-quality contest featured a row with the Belgian official in the eighth frame, which resulted in a formal warning.

Ronnie O’Sullivan furiously informed match referee Olivier Marteel to ‘check the camera’ to prove his innocence after being accused of making an obscene gesture at the Crucible

It is further evidence that O’Sullivan — who has been filmed all season for an all-access documentary — is unparalleled in the entertainment business.

Imposing and aggressive on the table, he rattled off two streaks of five consecutive frames. He punished errors and won at one visit, hitting three century breaks.

Trump initially refused to be bowed. But O’Sullivan raced out of the blocks in the evening session to open up a daunting advantage.

The drama off the table came yesterday afternoon. After asking a security guard to move out of his eyeline, O’Sullivan was 5-2 up and cruising. With the final frame of the session in the balance, O’Sullivan failed to get out of a snooker and returned to his seat. Marteel followed and accused him of making a gesture.

O'Sullivan insisted that Marteel was 'just looking for trouble' during the opening session

Marteel (pictured in 2018) is officiating in his first world final

O’Sullivan insisted that Marteel was ‘just looking for trouble’ during the opening session

Pointing at the referee, the six-time world champion replied: ‘Tell me, tell me, what did you see? You tell me what you saw. You saw nothing. Go look at the camera. You saw nothing. Don’t start.’ Marteel approached Trump, who told him he should have waited until after the frame to deal with the matter. Trump kept his composure to reduce the arrears to 5-3.

But O’Sullivan, 46, was not done there. After leaving the arena without the customary handshake with the official, he spoke to Eurosport from his dressing room.

‘He just seems to be looking for trouble, I just get a vibe from the guy,’ he said. ‘They’ve got hundreds of cameras out there — they can go and check them all. He’s trying to say… I’ll let the ref talk to you because I think he’s trying to create something. He needs to deal with it, not me.’

The World Snooker Tour released a statement saying: ‘Ronnie O’Sullivan received a formal warning following a gesture he made in the eighth frame.’

O'Sullivan ended the first session of the final with a 5-3 lead over Judd Trump in Sheffield

O’Sullivan ended the first session of the final with a 5-3 lead over Judd Trump in Sheffield

At the time of going to press no evidence of a gesture had surfaced.

Trump began his third Crucible final by winning the opening frame with a break of 72, but several missed long pots helped O’Sullivan race into a daunting 5-1 lead. He made two century breaks of 120 and 105 and had no right to win the fourth frame, but did with a cocked hat double off a respotted black.

Trump began last night by claiming a confidence-boosting opener. That was soon eroded as O’Sullivan rattled off the next five frames to continue his dominance, before Trump won his fifth frame.

In this form, it will not take O’Sullivan long to finally match Hendry on seven Crucible crowns.

Trump is hoping to deny O'Sullivan his seventh world championship by winning his second

Trump is hoping to deny O’Sullivan his seventh world championship by winning his second