Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, alleged match fixing and so many questions…

This was published yesterday by WPBSA

WPBSA Statement: Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon

The WPBSA has today charged Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon with fixing the outcome of six World Snooker Tour matches between 2013 and 2015. His case will be heard at a formal hearing of the Independent WPBSA Disciplinary Committee on a date and at a venue to be confirmed.

Jason Ferguson, the Chairman of the WPBSA has taken the decision to suspend Tirapongpaiboon from competition. This suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter.

Tirapongpaiboon is fully co-operating with the WPBSA.

The WPBSA will not comment further until the case has been before the independent WPBSA Disciplinary Committee.

The rules in question are:

WPBSA Conduct Regulations Part 1 – Section 2 Betting Rules

  • Corruption:

2.1.2.1 to fix or contrive, or to be a party to any effort to fix or contrive, the result, score, progress, conduct or any other aspect of the Tour and/or any Tournament or Match.

This raises so many questions…

“Between 2013 and 2015” … Thanawat last played on the main tour in December 2015. We are in September 2022. Why is this coming out now? The matches under investigation happened nearly seven years ago or earlier. Some happened nine years ago. So, why now? Why wasn’t this investigated earlier? Was this taken out of oblivion only because Thanawat actually qualified for the main tour again via the Asia-Oceania Q-School? It looks like it and that doesn’t look right to me: not the fact that it is investigated, but the fact that it wasn’t for so many years. Why wait?

Thanawat had already been under suspicion of match fixing and it may have cost him his life

Firebomb attack on Sheffield home of snooker players in corruption probe

00:35 BST, 22 September 2013

By Nick Harris

 Updated:  22 September 2013 

The Sheffield home of two Thai snooker players under investigation for possible match-fixing has been firebombed in a premeditated arson attack, The Mail on Sunday reveals.

Although the police have established no fixed motive for the arson, which resulted in two people needing medical treatment, one line of inquiry is that it could be linked to gambling on snooker.

Violent crime has been a blot on Thai snooker historically. Thailand’s best player, James Wattana, a former world No 3, once had a death threat to encourage him to lose a match, and his father was shot dead in 1992, said to be as a result of gambling debts.

Suggestions that Asian fixers could be trying to influence British snooker will send a chill through the sport – hence the complete secrecy, until now, about the arson attack.

The Mail on Sunday reveals it happened at a house in the Brinsworth area of Rotherham, near Sheffield, early on Friday August 30.

The property is owned by a snooker academy boss, Keith Warren, and two of those to have stayed there are Thai players, Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, 19, and Passakorn Suwannawat, 27.

The attack came three weeks after snooker’s governing body, the WPBSA, announced they were investigating unusual betting patterns on matches played in Doncaster by Passakorn and Thanawat on August 7.

Snooker’s head of integrity Nigel Mawer said: ‘Whether the matches are connected to the arson, I don’t know’

Money had been placed on Thanawat, the world No 75, and Passakorn, ranked No 92, to lose in a qualifying event for the Shanghai Masters. Both fell to lower-ranked opponents. Bookmakers suspended betting before the matches and the WPBSA announced immediately they would liaise with the Gambling Commission to ‘establish the available facts’.

Almost seven weeks on, the inquiry is continuing. ‘We are continuing to look at the two matches, and I can confirm there was an arson attack,’ said snooker’s head of integrity Nigel Mawer, formerly the head of the Economic and Specialist Crime Command at the Met Police. ‘Whether the matches are connected to the arson, I don’t know, but that is one of several possibilities that could be considered.’

The two players were not in the house at the time of the attack, having left for Thailand three or four days earlier, and wanted to remain anonymous.

A local fire brigade spokeswoman said three fire engines attended a blaze at 2.30am and two occupants were told how to stay safe until rescued. ‘The door area of the house was on fire and the rest of the property was smoke-logged,’ said the spokeswoman. A brigade investigation found the fire was ‘deliberate’ and the police took over.

It is understood that the WPBSA were alerted that cash in Asian markets had been wagered on the Thai players’ qualifiers, and peculiar betting patterns were also seen in the UK.

It’s worth noting though that the inquiry at the time concluded with no charges

Snooker betting: Shanghai Masters inquiry closes with no charges

29 January 2014

Snooker’s governing body says there is no evidence to link two Thai players with unusual betting patterns at two Shanghai Masters qualifying matches.

Scot Ross Muir beat Thanawat Tirapongpaiboon, of Thailand, 5-0, while Egyptian Mohamed Khairy defeated Thai player Passakorn Suwannawat 5-4 at the Doncaster Dome in August 2013.

Several bookmakers suspended betting on the matches, but the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) says it had found nothing to indicate any wrongdoing.

The WPBSA liaised with the Gambling Commission about the games.

Nigel Mawer, the WPBSA’s disciplinary chief, told BBC Sport: “After a thorough investigation, including interviewing the two Thai players and making inquiries in Thailand, there is no evidence of a link between the players and suspicious betting activity. The case is concluded.”

Snooker chiefs insist they treat all allegations around suspicious betting activity seriously.

We can only suppose that the current investigation is about other matches. I don’t remember suspicious betting being talked about at the time. That said I’m not into betting at all so it might well have completely escaped me. Also it’s about 6 matches over a period when Thanawat didn’t play that much at all. I’m puzzled…