O'Sullivan apologises for lewd comments at China Open

LONDON (Reuters) - Ronnie O’Sullivan apologised for the lewd comments he made in a news conference at last month’s China Open in an interview published on Saturday.

The 32-year-old, beginning his bid for a third world title this week, was shown gesturing towards a microphone in his lap and making a series of lewd suggestions in a video of the news conference that was posted on the Internet.

Most of his comments, liberally scattered with swear words, were intended as asides to a man sat next to him as his verdict on a first round defeat to Marco Fu was translated into Chinese.

“I was upset with myself because everything I did was the exact opposite of what my dad had taught me,” O’Sullivan told The Times.

“He would be embarrassed to know how unprofessional my approach was in China.”

Rodney Walker, chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), branded O’Sullivan’s behaviour as “unacceptable” and has referred the case to the game’s disciplinary committee.

“I am sorry it happened, it wasn’t intentional,” O’Sullivan added.

“It was a joke between me and a friend. It wasn’t loud enough for anybody to hear it had it not been for the microphones, which I did not realise were on.

“It is so embarrassing for me to look at it on the internet, not just because of the comments but because I giggled through the interview.

“I am not making excuses, but my mind was not on snooker that week and I apologise if anyone has taken offence.”

O’Sullivan, world champion in 2001 and 2004, meets China’s Liu Chuang in the first round of the game’s showpiece event in Sheffield, England later this week.

Writing by Padraic Halpin, editing by Rex Gowar