I know nothing about snooker and care about as much. What I want to know is, why did this have to happen in Ukraine? Did snooker world champion John Higgins fly out to Kiev specially to discuss match-fixing with people who, he claims, scared him so much he would agree to anything they asked? Oh, and he seems in fact to have no idea what country he was in anyway: in his own words “I didn’t know if this was the Russian mafia or who we were dealing with. At that stage I felt the best course of action was just to play along with these guys and get out of Russia.” So we’ve established the man’s a moron, if not actually crooked.
When I was working as a journalist in Kiev, me and my colleagues used to joke that if Ukraine got into the international news, you could guarantee the story would involve sex, the mafia or some kind of bizarre disaster or fatality. True to form, this story appears to combine at least two of those, and Mr Higgins has fallen for, or fallen back on, the same old media stereotypes.
We joked, but it annoyed and depressed me, and still does. Ukraine has become the country people go to to behave badly, whether it’s to be a sex tourist, drink too much, set up a sleazy news story or make dishonest deals that can break a sport and a reputation.
PS – I do realise I’m completely missing the point of this story and probably no one else will have even noticed where the discussion took place…