Snooker circus heads to Brazil

October 22, 2010

World Snooker will break new ground next September when it stages a £130,000 ( US $204,000) invitational tournament in the Brazilian city of Sao Paolo.

The Brazilian Masters, the first world event to be staged in South America, is set to feature the top 12 ranked players and four wildcards.

Steve Davis is guaranteed an invitation, with Brazilian Snooker Association chairman Marcilio Cavalcanti describing him as the Zico or Rivelino of the baize.

Brazil’s top player Igor Figueiredo will also be invited and World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn expects the tournament to be a pre-cursor to staging a full ranking event in 2012.

“This is samba time for snooker,” said Hearn, who made clear that all the world’s leading players will be obliged to participate.

“Football is like a religion in Brazil. Our job is to make snooker their second religion.

“I believe this is the dawn of a new era. This is bigger than a 200,000-dollar tournament.

“We are working on the globalisation of our sport and this opens up a continent for snooker. Breaking into South America is a huge step towards our ambition of making snooker a truly global sport.”

The Brazilian Masters is one of 16 new tournaments World Snooker have added to the programme since last season, including a new full ranking event in Germany and 12 minor ranking events spread across six European countries.

Snooker enjoyed a brief period of popularity in Brazil during the early 1980s, when Davis took on local cult hero Rui Chapeu and won.

Hearn, who travelled with Davis to Brazil, recalled today how that 11-frame match was played in a raucous atmosphere and drew a television audience of 30million.

As part of his attempts to rejuvenate the sport, Hearn wants the Brazilian fans to turn the 1,200-seat Transamerica Expo Center into a cauldron next September.

“That passion and atmosphere is why we are there,” said Hearn.

“In recent years the crowds at snooker have been getting quieter and quieter.

“We want to encourage crowd participation because it creates the buzz of live sport. We want tough crowds.”

World number six Shaun Murphy said: “I am over the moon to be going to Brazil. I never thought it would be on the snooker map.

“The more atmosphere the better, the louder the better, the more fun the better.”

Figueiredo, who reached the final of the World Amateur Championship last year and is now playing his first season on the professional tour, 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.”

The Brazilian Masters will be played between September 14-17 and broadcast live on Eurosport.

The tournament will be a straight knock-out on one match table. The first two rounds will be best of seven frames with the semi-finals and final the best of nine.