The WPBSA have now made public Ding Junhui’s £250 fine for swearing in his post match press conference at the World Championship – as revealed by this blog earlier this week.
I hope this leads to the reporting of all disciplinary cases. One of the central tenets of any justice system is that justice is not only done but is seen to be done.
Ding's punishment is in line with Mark Allen's £250 fine for swearing in a UK Championship press conference. In fact, £250 is the going rate for swearing at tournaments.
Mark Williams was fined £3,000 for his expletive-driven remarks about the Crucible, but this was on Twitter and so outside the tournament guidelines (although still excessive in my view).
Ding had been 9-6 up to Ryan Day and lost 10-9. I’m sure his swearing was not pre-meditated but the reaction of a hurt and disappointed player, interviewed just minutes after his defeat.
For this reason, I’m sure leniency was considered but I understand the fine came about because a member of the public – who watched the press conference on Youtube – contacted the WPBSA to complain. I’m guessing they have a lot of time on their hands.
Gratuitous swearing is boorish and the sign of a poor vocabulary but the term ‘bad language’ is a misnomer.
In the right hands, swearing can be gloriously inventive. In their time both Chaucer and Shakespeare used ‘curse’ words. In the right context, swearing is not only appropriate but essential: imagine The Wire without a single swear word.
True, at the snooker table or in the press conference room it is generally not appropriate but a player getting knocked out of the World Championship, when they are one of the favourites to win the whole thing, has the right to feel peeved (not a swear word).
Ding’s swearing may have offended some but it was a display of genuine passion. It was real. There were no meaningless platitudes, only visceral anger in the moment of defeat.
For the authorities, it is a tricky balancing act. It is entirely right that the WPBSA keeps order in the sport and that the players, as professionals with responsibilities to snooker, play ball.
But we must be careful the game doesn’t become so crowded by rules and notions of etiquette that the players are forced to become automatons, mouthing bland PR epithets rather than being themselves - for good or bad.