Behind the fall-out: Why Ronnie O'Sullivan believes he is being bullied by World Snooker bosses

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action against Gary Wilson  on day two of the Betfred Snooker World Championships at the Crucible. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Ronnie O'Sullivan in action against Gary Wilson on day two of the Betfred Snooker World Championships at the Crucible. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

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Ronnie O'Sullivan claims he has been "bullied" by snooker's top officials.

The crisis has seen O'Sullivan warn - not for the first time - that he could quit the sport.

Here is a look at how the rift has developed.

Why would O'Sullivan think he has been bullied? What does this stem from?

At the Masters in January, O'Sullivan was highly critical of referee Terry Camilleri after a semi-final win over Marco Fu, and said a press photographer had been "a f****** nightmare" during the match, ignoring etiquette. O'Sullivan won the tournament and was sent a letter by snooker authorities afterwards, asking him to explain his comments. It is worth noting he has not been fined.

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I’ve had enough of being bullied, says Ronnie O’Sullivan

But that doesn't sound like bullying?

O'Sullivan's postman has delivered many a disciplinary note over the years, and the Rocket feels he has been singled out for special treatment. His complaints about the cases have become familiar over the years, but Sunday's outburst at the Crucible upped the ante.

And why is he taking aim at Barry Hearn, the World Snooker chairman? Don't they get along?

O'Sullivan says he still likes Hearn, who used to be his manager. But that relationship is under fresh scrutiny now. Before the World Championship, Hearn told Press Association Sport that O'Sullivan's recent curt media interviews had been "embarrassing" and urged him to "grow up".

That's tough talking from Hearn. So the sport's biggest name and the man at its controls are at war?

It seems that way, although Hearn declined to return fire after O'Sullivan's press conference, where the crowd favourite was reminded of the veteran sports promoter's criticism. O'Sullivan took the opportunity to say he was "done with" Hearn and his fellow senior officials, believing they are denying him the freedom of speech. O'Sullivan said he had been keeping his counsel with the press simply to avoid getting into any more trouble.

This doesn't sound healthy for all concerned. What could happen next?

O'Sullivan could always retire, if he is as sick of his treatment as he states. Goodness knows, he has threatened to walk away from snooker often enough in his 25-year career.

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