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Welcome to the new age of billiards

Posted by on December 12, 2017

Welcome to the new age of billiards

© Ton Smilde
Mr. Farouk Barki (UMB), mr. Xavier Carrer (Kozoom) and the players to comment

The news that was launched about a better future for players, more major tournaments on the calendar and spectacularly increased prize money, has been received with cheers and approval in the billiard world. The new boost and impulse, announced by the World federation (UMB) and Kozoom for the coming years, is a blessing for carom billiards. The World Cups and world championships are being upgraded and a new cycle of tournaments has been announced. ,,This is fantastic news for all of us'', is the reaction of top players.

The UMB president, Mr. Farouk Barki, gives some explanation in this Kozoom article, and some of the top players react to the developments. The schedule with World Cups (6 or 7) and World championships is the main part of the international calendar. The program is supplemented with 6 Masters tournaments, 4 Confederational tournaments and 1 Continental Cup, similar to the Mosconi Cup. The first estimate indicates that the best 14 players (at least) of the ranking play lucrative tournaments for at least 24 weeks per year. The UMB will come with further details about prize money, the selection policy (seeded players) and the planning of the annual
calendar.

Mr. Farouk Barki (UMB): ,,We already announced that the total prize money will be around 1,5 million dollars, including 150.000 or more for the Masters tournaments. The World championship for seniors (20.000 dollars for the winner), and also ladies, juniors and nation team championships are already on the calendar. The top three in a World Cup receives 16.000, 10.000 and 6.000 dollar. The players in the last qualification rounds are rewarded by 500 dollar. The Masters tournaments will take place from 1 July 2018 until 31 December. The Continental Cup will be played in March. We are in negotiations with Seoul to organize.''

Mr. Barki looks back at a period of six months with lots of negotiations, meetings, consultations with federations (mainly CEB), parties, sponsors and players. ,,We were under pressure, because there was a threat from Korea with an organization that wanted to attract players from the UMB. We must be happy and satisfied with the new, big plans for the future. The most important thing is that we guarantee a future in which all players are united and continue to play for the UMB.''

,,We could only realize this thanks to Diane Wild and Jean Pierre Guiraud from the CEB, because starting in 2018, we will make a big claim on the international calendar with the UMB tournaments. Also thanks to Kozoom, without whom we could never have done this. Thanks to the new contract, we are able to spectacularly increase the prize money.''

Mr. Xavier Carrer: ,,We truly believe this is the beste way for three cushion to grow by keeping all players, professionals and amators, unified.''

Kozoom/Frits Bakker: What is your reaction to the good news that the UMB launched, with
regard to organizing more tournaments with increased prize money?

Marco Zanetti (Italy): It's excellent news, giving a lot of impulses and motivation to all billiard players in the whole world. I think that also organizers and officials will be awarded by this announcement.
Torbjörn Blomdahl (Sweden): I just think it's super good and just in time for me.
Eddy Merckx (Belgium): This is wonderful news for billiards in general of course and especially that we can enjoy it as a top player.
Dick Jaspers (Netherlands): I am very curious about the new calendar. There's a big change coming up for all of us. Very nice news.
Nikos Polychronopoulos (Greece): The news is great for all. It should be a good reason for players to come back and play the World Cups.
Javier Palazón (Spain): Great news. There is currently a lot of high level in three cushion and it is beneficial for all parties.
Eddy Leppens (Belgium): Wonderful news for billiards, a fantastic step into the future. Only in this way can our sport become more attractive and well-known.

Kozoom/FB: What does it mean for your own calendar, which is already very busy with team competitions and other tournaments?

Dick J: We have to make more choices, maybe there is some space for the national competitions, which exist by the grace of the top players. But with all that traveling, it will be difficult to combine, because now it is already very tough for us. I want to be realistic: the great distances take a lot of time. I want to see the calendar before I decide.
Marco Z: I don't play team competition this year (except the national championship), so I'm not that busy compared to other colleagues. Despite that, the calendar will be very rich for me and I will have enough competition to play throughout the whole year.
Nikos P: It will be very hard for all, but also a nice motivation.
Eddy L: Yes, of course, certain players will have less time to compete in different countries. I expect that a number of them will play in fewer countries and make choices. I mainly speak for the world's top 14, or the players who will be seeded for the Masters tournaments.
Torbjörn B: My calendar is not that full, so for me it is perfect.
Javier P: Yes, we have to select the competitions due to the increase of UMB tournaments, but it is good for us.
Eddy M: It's too early to answer clearly. We can only make choices when the calendar is known for the next season.

Kozoom/FB: What we hear for now, is that top players will be on the road for about six months to participate in all those
tournaments. How will that change your life as a top player?

Marco Z: I won't be home as often, so I'll see less of my family. This is the only bad news I can report here today.
Torbjörn B: As far as I know, it concerns tournaments which are not that much longer than the current World Cups and if we have more, we must be very satisfied.
Dick J: We are already used to a lot of traveling, so life does not change so much. To be on the road a bit longer, is not a problem for a top athlete.
Eddy M: Yes, it will change. But even until today I was a happy person (billiard player), who could turn his hobby into a profession. And of course, the new prospects are very welcome.
Nikos P: Most of us were already on the road for 3-4 months. We can handle it.
Javier P: I love to play carom. It's my passion and of course the negative part is the long periods away from home. You have to accept it.
Eddy L: We are used to being on the road. The more tournaments, the better, especially pleasant with the higher prize money.

Kozoom/FB: This is the development we have been waiting for, for years?

Dick J: We didn't enjoy that many positive developments in recent years. The most positive of the last ten, fifteen years was the arrival of Kozoom. We have been dependent long on a few people who wanted to organize big tournaments. Now, we have more security. I am pleased that the contact between the UMB
(especially Mr. Barki) and the players in the field is now much better.
Nikos P: It is for sure a big start of what we were dreaming of in the past.
Marco Z: All billiard players carried a dream to see their sport advance. Now, with this announcement, let us hope for a better future. It's a very special and exciting moment!
Torbjörn B; Yes, there were some improvements in recent years already, but this is obviously a big step. Three cushion is a wonderful sport and who knows, maybe very big sponsors are interested.
Eddy M: We will pay more attention to a sport if more money is involved. In that respect, I think it can boost the popularity of billiards.
Javier P: I think the UMB has done a great job with Kozoom and the Korean market.
Eddy L: We have been waiting for this for a long time, and I also think that our sport deserves it.

Kozoom/FB: Can three-cushion now develop into a global sport?

Dick J: We must remain realistic, it will go slowly. There are still too many parties and countries that are strangers to three cushion. This is a good step forward, but there is still a lot of work to be done. The developments in Korea have a snowball effect. There, billiards is promoted much more than in Europe. That is also an important task for the UMB: looking for more publicity, giving much more publicity to this project.Marco Z: Three cushion billiards is one of the most exciting precision sports ever. Many different things are necessary and so many conditions must be met to be successful in the international media business. I really hope we will succeed, but the road is still long.
Nikos P: We have to use the following years to see the results of this big project.
Javier P: It is too soon to know, at the moment the news is good and now we must all give the best of ourselves.
Eddy L: I think we will get more respect. But there is a lot of international promotion yet to be done, especially in the media, as it is in Korea now.
Eddy M: There will be more attention to a sport if more money is involved. In that respect, I think it can boost the popularity of billiard sport.

Kozoom/FB: How do you estimate the chances that billiards will become an Olympic sport?

Marco Z: I can't estimate the real possibilities, but at least I'm sure that the UMB and the confederations will take this very seriously. Anyway, in the WCBS there are the influences of all IOC recognized disciplines, so we don't have it all in our own hands.
Torbjörn B: I am less positive for the Olympics. It would of course be nice, but it seems to go very slow. If we continue with such small steps in that direction, it can take a long time.
Nikos P: If billiards can be Olympic sport, the future will be really amazing for everybody.
Javier P: I think it's difficult, I hope we can introduce billiards in Paris 2024 as an exhibition sport.
Eddy L: I have the impression that the CEB and the UMB are working hard for that. We are already at the World Games, so the next step is not that big.

Kozoom/FB: Is there is a real chance that the leagues in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and France will be played without top players in the upcoming years?
Marco Z: Probably, the top players will stop playing in multiple leagues, it's possible that they will have to choose only one.
Torbjörn B: I don't think so. Top players will also play team competitions in the future, but they may not travel so far for a match
Dick J: It would be a good thing if the different countries better coordinate their calendars.
Eddy L: Without top players, it certainly will be much harder to have a strong league. We have to make choices. That is a pity, because the team competitions are very attractive and fun for all of us.
Nikos P: This is possible, every player will have to decide for himself.
Javier P: I think that good players will always play, it is clear that with this possible calendar, many matches will be played without them.

Kozoom/FB: To whom do we owe these wonderful plans for the future of billiards?

Marco Z: The first reason is given by the attention that the media reserve to billiards mainly in Korea. But behind that, there is really a lot of work done by a lot of people, from federations, other organizations, other bodies and sympathizers. This is the result of their efforts. I would like to thank everyone for that! The list will be too long, let me at least mention the two parties which are directly involved in the positive development: the UMB and its president Farouk Barki and Kozoom with Bernard Baudoin, Xavier Carrer and William Oh. Let me just remind that also all organizers of World Cup events and championships, including the national billiard federations deserve our gratitude, because they are the foundation of our organization.
Dick J: Mr. Farouk Barki did a great job, like Kozoom with Xavier Carrer and Bernard Baudoin.
Torbjörn B: I would like to thank Farouk Barki, who is always working for improvements for players, also Kozoom France and Kozoom Korea and their sponsors as well as all the players who have brought three cushion to a very high level. The good cooperation between all these parties will be very important.
Nikos P: Of course to the Kozoom international team. I don't want to mention names, because maybe I will forget somebody. Kozoom is a big family and lover of our game! Also important is the support of the UMB board for this project.
Javier P: The UMB together with Kozoom are the key players in these plans for the future.
Eddy M: Farouk Barki, the chairman of the UMB, has accelerated these plans. There was no development for years. The big change is mainly due to Kozoom.
Eddy L: We owe this to several people, Kozoom in the first place. They first started streaming all the tournaments, now we have seen the tv contracts in Korea that made our sport big. Of course, Mr. Farouk Barki, who tries to keep everything together under the banner of the UMB, so that we don't get a separation again as in the past with BWA. We sure must try to avoid that.

Finally, the UMB calendar as it is known now:

February 22-25: World championship nations in Viersen
April 23-29: World Cup in Bursa
May 21-26: World Cup in Ho Chi Minh city
June 11-17: World Cup in Blankenberge July 2-8: World Cup in
Porto
September 3-9: World Cup in Korea
September 18-20: World championship ladies in Turkey
September 21-23: World championship juniors in Turkey
October 2-6: World championship seniors in Cairo
November 23-25: Lausanne Billard Masters
December 9-15: World Cup in Hurghada.
Date not known for now: 6 Masters tournaments, 1 Continental
Cup, 3 more invitation tournaments (with New York and LG Cup).

Merry Christmas to all billiard lovers (UMB and Kozoom team)

Marco Zanetti

Eddy Merckx

Dick Jaspers

Torbjörn Blomdahl

Nikos Polychronopoulos

Eddy Leppens

Javier Palazón

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