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Thursday December 02, 2021

Muhammad Asif says he will retire if not given reward money for winning world title

February 11, 2020

KARACHI: Frustrated by the continued delay in the release of his reward announced by the government, the reigning world snooker champion Muhammad Asif has hinted about retiring from the sport while the officials of the Pakistan Billiards & Snooker Association (PBSA) have threatened legal action if the reward amount was not released, writes Syed Khalid Mahmood.

In a dramatic turn of the events, all the participating cueists in the quarter-finals of the Jubilee Insurance 45th National Snooker Championship 2020 sported a black armband to protest against the delay in the release of payment to Asif.

Upon the completion of the quarter-finals, Asif, flanked by the top functionaries of the PBSA, addressed the media corps present on the occasion.

Initially Asif appeared cool and calm while seeking his due reward of Rs10 million from the government which had been promised to him by the head of the state. Apparently he seemed to have been provoked by some teasing queries leading to the change in his tone and body language.

When asked specifically if he would burn his cue if the reward money was not paid to him, Asif opened up and expressed his disgust at having been made to run from pillar to post for the amount the government owed to him.

“I was not given the due amount when I became the world champion in 2012. Now I have won the world title again but still am waiting for the reward money,” Asif stated. “Athletes should not be treated like this as they make a lot of efforts and sacrifices for performing well and bringing laurels to the country.

“If the attitude of the government doesn’t change, perhaps I will stop playing snooker at national or international level in near future. I will be left with no other option than to announce retirement from snooker. If I don’t get the due reward then there will be no point in continuing,” he warned.

PBSA president Munawwar Hussain Shaikh, a lawyer by profession, didn’t rule out the possibility of taking the matter to court if Asif’s reward was not released.

PBSA co-chairman Alamgir Anwar Shaikh said that President Dr Arif Alvi had given the assurance for the release of the payment during their meeting in Islamabad a few weeks ago. “We have been knocking at the doors of the relevant departments since the moment Asif made the country proud by bringing home the world title for the second time,” he added. “We have approached the Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination Dr Fehmida Mirza as well as Prime Minister Imran Khan, but we are still waiting,” he said.

“This protest is meant to basically serve another reminder to the authorities to release the reward money to Asif,” Alamgir Shaikh declared.

When inquired about the next move if the payment was further delayed, the PBSA co-chairman hinted at holding protest meetings in Islamabad too.