World Championship 2017: Ronnie O'Sullivan claims wrong - Shaun Murphy

By Owen PhillipsBBC Sport at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Watch O'Sullivan's emotional news conference
2017 World Snooker Championship
Venue: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield Dates: 15 April-1 May
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Five-time world champion Ronnie O'Sullivan is "completely wrong" to accuse snooker bosses of bullying, says world number five Shaun Murphy.

O'Sullivan made the claims against World Snooker on Sunday, accusing the body of using "threatening language".

Murphy, who will face O'Sullivan in the World Championship second round on Thursday, said he cannot live in a "world without consequences".

Four-time world champion John Higgins said he felt sympathy for O'Sullivan.

The Scot, who beat Martin Gould on Tuesday to reach the second round at the Crucible, told BBC Radio 5 live: "If I am led to believe what I have heard about how he was reprimanded, it is out of order."

O'Sullivan, 41, publicly criticised a referee and swore at a photographer after his Masters win in January, which led to World Snooker referring his comments to snooker's governing body, the WPBSA.

The WPBSA took no action but O'Sullivan was sent a letter by the organisation about his behaviour and warned he could face further sanctions, including a fine.

"To claim he has been bullied is, in my opinion, quite inaccurate," said Murphy.

"The players' contract is clear for all to see. He can say whatever he wants. No-one has muffled him. But you can't live in a world where there are no consequences; no-one lives in that world."

Speaking earlier on Monday, World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn said O'Sullivan's allegations were "unfounded".

"Ronnie can say whatever he wants about whatever he wants, but he can't get away with everything he says and he isn't right about everything he says either," Murphy said.

"In my own personal opinion, I think he is completely wrong."

Murphy, the 2005 champion, survived a fine comeback from 17-year-old Chinese qualifier Yan Bingtao to win 10-8 and set up a mouth-watering match with O'Sullivan

The Englishman said he was "sure" the off-table controversy would be a distraction for his opponent.

"It's very hard to talk about lawyers and threatening the chairman and being embroiled in all of that - and focus on the snooker," he added.

"I certainly couldn't do it. I don't know how he does it, but he seems to like it; he always seems to do it. He seems to court it, like he enjoys it - so let him carry on with it with it."

'O'Sullivan has a case'

Higgins said Hearn was doing "great things" with snooker but added some things in the players' contracts were "a bit over the top".

The 41-year-old said: "Ronnie does not normally come in here and be that passionate about something. I think he has a case. There are a few things in these players' contracts that lawyers would laugh at.

"We sign the contracts at the beginning of the year... it would need the top 16 or 32 players to say something. But we will never get that.

"Some players think it is OK or don't want to rock the boat. Why would we? It's a great product and Barry Hearn is doing great things but there are some points in it that are a bit over the top.

"I have a degree of sympathy for him [O'Sullivan]. He has a lot to take on his shoulders because he is the biggest name."

Read more: Higgins beats Gould to reach round two

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