By Nick Harris
21 October 2010
Snooker’s most charismatic player Ronnie O’Sullivan is expected to be the star attraction when the sport breaks fresh ground next year with a tournament in Brazil, announced today.
The Brazilian Masters will feature the world’s top 12 players plus four wild cards, and will run from 14 to 17 September 2011 at the Transamerica Expo Centre in São Paulo. The prize fund will be “at least” $200,000 (£130,000) with the expected to pocket £50,000-£60,000, the exact amount still to be confirmed.
The event will have a straight knock-out format. The first two rounds will be best of seven frames, with the semis and the final both best-of-nine.
Barry Hearn, chairman of World Snooker and the main who’s promised to revitalise the flagging fortunes of a game that attracted British TV audience in the tens of millions in its 1980s heyday said: “This is a fantastic announcement for snooker as it will be the first ever professional tournament staged in Brazil.”
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s largest city, the most populous city in the southern hemisphere with 11m people. “São Paulo is for urban tourism. Culture is our beach,” says Caio Luiz de Carvalho, the president of São Paulo Tourism.
The city is famous among other things for hosting the largest Gay Pride Parade in the world, and its sporting assets include football clubs Corinthians, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo, and the F1 Grand Prix. It is also scheduled to be a host city for football’s next World Cup in 2014.
Hearn added: “Brazil is a country with a great love of sport and an incredible sporting heritage. Snooker is very popular there and we want to tap into that support. Breaking into South America is a huge step towards our ambition of making snooker a truly global sport. These are exciting times for us, with this the latest in a series of new tournaments.”
Of O’Sullivan, he added: “I think Ronnie will go down like a house on fire. People love him everywhere, but they will particularly like him in Brazil where the emotional aspect is so high and the crowd is so vociferous. I know they love their snooker. Ronnie O’Sullivan could be the new Pele when snooker arrives in Brazil.”
Brazil’s leading player – among 20,000 registered players in the country, is Igor Figueiredo, who reached the final of the World Amateur Championship last year. Now playing his first season on the professional tour, he said:”It’s very exciting news that there will be a tournament in Brazil. Snooker is already popular in my homeland but there is potential for it to be much bigger. This event will bring snooker to the Brazilian fans and I know they will respond by welcoming the top players and creating a great atmosphere. Hopefully I can be successful on the main tour and provide an example for more Brazilian players to follow me.”