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Carom Billiard - 3-Cushion - Interview - Bolzano (ITA)

Marco Zanetti's preview: some sunshine in a cloudy sky

Posted by on December 29, 2020

Marco Zanetti's preview: some sunshine in a cloudy sky

© Kozoom Studio
Marco Zanetti celebrating one of his victories in a recent World Cup in Sharm El Sheik

BOLZANO - The request for an annual review and a commentary on the year of 2020 was meant to be a challenge for Marco Zanetti, the Italian maestro in three cushion who has been among the absolute world top players for many years now. The year has been so complicated because of the COVID crisis with that long, forced silence, the slimmed-down calendars and the solitary confinement in own environment. ''This forced stop allowed me to focus on another way of living, without training, billiards and travel steady in mind'', the two-time world champion starts his story. ''The pace has slowed, the pressure to performance has gradually gone away and life has changed a lot.''

This seemed the perfect time of the year, however, to have a review with the Italian star from the top three in the world with his wonderful record list in lots of billiard disciplines. And to invite him to turn the spotlights on this curious year in his beloved sport.

Marco Zanetti (58, from Bolzano in Italy) enters the question and answer game, speaking frankly with Kozoom in a year-end interview, to express himself freely, about the pandemic, the sudden and long hiatus, his professional billiard status, the competition and events stop, the UMB strategy, the new developments in Asian three cushion, the PBA and other proceedings in the global world of billiard. And speaking about the restart: ''There is some sunshine in a still cloudy sky.''

Kozoom/Frits Bakker: Take us to the situation in which you are now. Where did you spent all these months of COVID crisis? The living environment with your family? Which circumstances in the lockdown, how did you spend your days as a sports man who is so used to travel across the world, live a very exciting life in the spotlights of global billiards?
Marco Zanetti: I'm in my house in Bolzano, from where I no longer moved after the last UMB World Cup in Antalya in February. This forced stop allowed me to focus on another way of living, without having training, billiards and travel steady in mind. The pace has slowed, the pressure gradually gone away and life has changed. So, I could devote myself to other jobs that I had postponed for a long time and lived much more in the family. It has been a year full of contrasts, with positive aspects, but also with many difficulties and suffering around me. A year that has changed the world and themselves, perhaps in a definitive way.

Kozoom/FB: How did you plan to slowly restart practice, matches and billiards in general? Will you play the Kozoom event, the Jumbo Challenge, the first competitions to show up? We can say: you surely were not charmed by the One Carom Challenge.
Marco Zanetti: I am gradually resuming practice and I intend to participate in the Jumbo and Kozoom events in Holland and in France if it's possible due to the pandemic. These events finally bring some sunshine in a still cloudy sky, because the UMB tournaments are still standing. It's not a complain, but it's hard to stay without official tournaments for so long. Regarding the One Carom Challenge, I more considered that an interesting experiment to do with good medium/high level players, but not with the best in the world. In this circumstance, I very much appreciated the freedom to refuse to participate.

Kozoom/FB: How did you feel and could you deal with this year in which so many events were cancelled, in which the crisis has affected us all and turned the world upside down?
Marco Zanetti: This year has been so different, so special, that it is even difficult to relate it to billiards only. With the pandemic, 3 cushion billiards competitions are concerned at any territorial levels, from the regional to worldwide. Billiards is played in relatively confined spaces and the possibility of contagion is not only theoretical or very remote. Playing with the mask is possible, but those who use glasses could be disadvantaged.

Kozoom/FB: Feelings and opinions in the billiards world now differ widely. Many say: lock it all, stop competitions and don't finish them this year. And others absolutely want to play again when the opportunities are there.
Marco Zanetti: At the end, every nation must decide according to the level of the pandemic and guidelines given by sports ministries.  There is no room for private opinions if we speak about official competitions, as for the rest, billiard players can privately try to keep playing if they wish under the common good sense. 

Kozoom/FB: We are all watching the South Korean events these days, several organizers let it go on under strict measures. Many players and fans in the world are wondering: when it happens there, why shouldn't we do the same? How do you feel about that?
Marco Zanetti: Okay, let's take a fictional example and think we have to go and play a UMB event in Korea soon. Apart from the risks of the journey, it would be inevitable to undergo the long quarantine at the arrival before being able to enter Korea. Who would be willing to accept such a sacrifice? Maybe it might make more sense to go to Korea and play 3 or 4 events in a row. But in this case, the total length of transfer would be over a month including the quarantine period. And furthermore, such a proposal has never been made. 

Kozoom/FB: What is your supposition now that we are much further and later: about the UMB/ PBA split, the suspensions, the attitude of UMB?
Marco Zanetti: This period is so different from anything known so far. And I don't feel it's the right moment to come to conclusions, although we are at the end of the year and this desire is comprehensible. Then, let's start from the beginning of the pandemic, when in March everything was stopped, including sports. We stayed home, in front of our computers and televisions which only broadcasted recorded events from the past. Those who thought that even UMB events could restart were wrong. That proves that we remain a small and averagely organized federative sport. However, I think that during the pandemic most of the top players have really preferred to stay at home rather than to travel far away to play single events.

Kozoom/FB: And to continue this story towards PBA?
Marco: The PBA, which is instead a Korean private association, without the same constraints of an institute of international public law (like the UMB, the KBF and their partners), but with a clear business plan to follow, with financially major and more tight connections (with players, televisions and sponsors) was able to organize its own events and so to provide new programs on its own TV channel, Biliards-tv. The non-Korean PBA players have respected their contractual obligations, painstakingly undergoing the required quarantine each time they entered Korea.

Marco Zanetti, victorious for many years: 23 World Championship participations (2 times gold, 2 times slive, 6 times bronze), 166 World Cups (most of all players), 4x gold, 9x silver, 19x bronze, European Championship (2x gold,), Agipi (1x gold), Crystal Kelly (1x gold), LG+ Cup (1x gold), Lausanne Billard Masters (2x gold), World Games (1x gold), New York tournament (1x gold)

Kozoom/FB: Then, to further go back in time. When it came to the first split: there was the small exodus of players who left the house, the changeover of only three, four world class Europeans and some others to PBA. Where are we now?

Marco Zanetti: I want to come to the point that, in my opinion, it is conceptually wrong to compare the UMB with the PBA for obvious reasons: the UMB remains an IOC recognized International Sports Federation with many legal constraints and also with certain institutional goals that limit the freedom of action. Furthermore, billiards is alas not part of the Olympic program and the difference is enormous as its leadership is not a 'professional' management that is 'salaried' and therefore based mainly on volunteering. The PBA is on the other hand a private professional association that has no institutional constraints, based on the idea of creating a media business around 3-cushion billiards and deciding everything independently for the achievement of the goals.

Kozoom/FB: What can we say about the split and the months after? Were they close to an agreement, UMB and PBA, in a certain moment?
Marco Zanetti: That was on my eyes the main point, while the management behind PBA has refused to work together with the UMB at the time they had the opportunity to find an agreement. Too many constraints and limitations for the private decision maker. Also the players, unfortunately, have not been able to make any contribution in bringing the parties more together. Now therefore each body tries to carry out its projects by seeing in the other a potential competitor and so the conflicts between the bodies are still escalating.

Kozoom/FB: There are, as we speak for so long, no winners, only losers in a sportive way.
Marco Zanetti: Very unfortunate, because this sport was made great by its top players with their phenomenal performances. They currently remain the only real available asset for the bodies: without big names, no organization can win credibility in front of televisions and sponsors. But players have also shown other weakness - they weren't able to come together and act as a group for the defence of cooperative interests. The common spirit to reach this goal stayed there just in thoughts but never in clear facts and actions. Even the attempt to create an official player association has failed. 

Kozoom/FB: And now, when you take it into consideration, what is your conclusion?
Marco Zanetti: That each top player has created his own harsh path of becoming and then staying professional and could not switch on thinking more collective or cooperate. Because also staying professional is hard in billiards and the daily struggles make many players busy in their minds and not open for more. 

Kozoom/FB: All players, both in UMB and PBA, go their own way for this moment.
Marco Zanetti: These days, with the PBA having new opportunities is logically interesting. And as experience has already shown, every player surely will go his own way, independently from the others, a very understandable but also very individual way. Under these conditions, 3 cushion-billiards will never improve and become really big, because it will stay a strong divided world. 

Kozoom/FB: Where to go, which decision to take?
Marco Zanetti: This is for every player the real moment where he can feel freedom. Because afterwards, he will just have to accept all the consequences linked to his decision and, so far we know now, get in line as a good soldier. Because billiard players are in fact also excellent soldiers. The certain thing is: being a true professional 3-cushion player is the big ambition of many and it is more than legitimate for everyone to try to turn this dream into reality. So, all players have different values and aspects. Therefore, I get very prudent before I start on judging other colleagues for their choices.

Marco Zanetti in a match with the current World Champion Torbjörn Blomdahl

Kozoom/FB: And now, when this has been said?
Marco Zanetti: There are many open items related to top players now. First of all: who can know now which UMB top players are perhaps thinking, more or less secretly, on moving to the PBA? Who really knows about the actual situation of the PBA and their perspectives? What happened to Kozoon International, why the exclusive UMB marketing rights are now under the competences of another company? The world of 3 cushion billiards is full with mysteries and that also contributes to create a strange atmosphere in the ambient. It can never grow up healthily by this way.

Kozoom/FB: What are your feelings for now, when speaking about the current top 5 or 10 players in the world. More players are willing to leave for the PBA for a challenge?
Marco Zanetti: Here and now it seems that everything is going well there. However, many experiences from the past teach that we cannot just evaluate appearances. So, the core of the matter finally is: can anyone find out how PBA business really is going there? I wish that to PBA, but honestly, we will never know. And it's not hard to imagine that this pandemic time with many limitations and economical struggles havn't brought positive impulses.

Kozoom/FB: The signals are: three more players made the switch to PBA these weeks?
Marco Zanetti: We, Europeans live too far from Asia and, alas, we know too little about their world, nor are we fluently informed. Following the situation in Korea and the continuous changes in the relations among the official and professional billiard bodies, it's virtually impossible and Korean billiard players tell too little about that. So we can only patiently observe the events that take place, and assume something out of it. For example, Cho Jae-Ho's move to the PBA is a clear point in favour of the PBA over the KBF, the Korean national federation, and versus the Korean right holder of UMB events.

Kozoom/FB: The Asians have the power of numbers (players, billiard clubs) and immense tv attention to attract sponsors. The Europeans have a long history and their famous champions. How does the future look like in 10, 15 years when Blomdahl, Jaspers, Zanetti, Merckx, Sayginer are near to the end of their careers? And Asian three cushion will be growing further?
Marco Zanetti: Think of the world of billiards 20 years ago: many Europeans, some South Americans and some Asians. Think now how the same world could be in 20 years: Europe and Asia might have reversed their roles. The billiards axis will inevitably move eastwards, also because Turkey, a country of great talents, will stay strongly represented. For the moment let's enjoy this exciting challenge of our sport between various generations and nationalities, as long as the old players still stay competitive. It's quite possible to see in the future billiards still growing in Asia. But on tv, billiards will stay attractive only with a tough competition between Asian and non-Asian players.

 

Kozoom/FB: Have Korean PBA and other tournament organizers in Asia been taken the right way in giving entertainment, glamour and show to the events when UMB remained conservative and mainly focused on the sport?
Marco Zanetti: At the moment, I just feel like saying with certainty that it's the product '3-cushion billiards' which is very popular on television in Korea. Everyone can try to bring it differently, but what counts in the end is the real quality of the product! I really don't consider this as a key factor. 

Kozoom/FB: What should UMB do to give our beloved billiards sport new impulses to not further fall behind compared to Asian countries?
Marco Zanetti: Before starting, let me say that those who have to worry about the emergence of Asia, would be rather the other continental confederations (Europe and America first) and not the UMB which is the world federation to which the Asian Confederation is also affiliated. Having clarified that, when you ask what UMB should do in the future, under the hope that the pandemic will be won next? I would say that it is important to increase further the number of competitions and the level of the organizational quality. The prize money as well to keep the players at the top. Then, to have more active managers with more tasks to follow and in general with a better internal and external communication. And finally, this should always stay very strong present, to work tirelessly to achieve the much desired Olympic recognition by the IOC.

Kozoom/FB: What must happen to bring it all together again, or isn't there a way back. How can the breach, that caused so much damage to our wonderful sport, can be repaired, that all the hated suspensions will be lifted, that all the world's top players will be able to play together again?
Marco Zanetti: The indispensable condition to get everyone together into a sole organizational or legal structured unit, should be first the will of all parties and the definition of common interests to pursue. And with a real common sense of equal identity. It seems to me that we are far from reaching this situation. Indeed, I would say that the division is getting even bigger now, unfortunately.

Kooom/FB: There is only one top player I should ask: do you feel any ambition, Marco, to be part of the UMB board later and to influence the developments and conflicts in three cushion for the future?
Marco Zanetti: At the moment, I'm just a professional player hoping to have a few more years to play to conclude his sports career. However, I am rather disappointed by the general situation of the environment, with its divisions and a very poor communication. I cannot exclude that one day, I will feel like wanting to give a contribution to create new conditions for the future and the new generations. But only together with other people with similar views to mine and a compatible way of thinking.

Thanks, Marco, for the interview, we all wish you a happy and healthy New Year.

Marco Zanetti with his then 11-year young son Samuel after winning the World Cup in Sharm El Sheikh in 2019

Marco Zanetti at Sharm El Sheikh airport with the trophy after he won the Egypt World Cup 2019 in a final match against Dick Jaspers

Marco with some fans and the Italian flag when he won three cushion title in 2016

Marco with his billiard cue among students in Sicili visiting a high school

Marco (left) with Dutch column writer Bert van Manen and UMB sports leader Bert Thür

 

 

 

 

 

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My Comments

Jordi_Fontdevila
Jordi_Fontdevila
Great Interview
Great Interview, Interviewer and Interviewee, both soldiers, knowing exactly what Southeast Asia is and that Japan is not there, which is good, missing just THIS QUESTION:

The big, fat and ugly "pushing through" violates the Rules (UMB Rules art 41 nr 7, b.) and you know that very well. By doing that without sanction, "a true sporting spirit is not honored/honoured” (only cheating is there, with “push through” shots/strokes) and “no respect for the regulations” is there, with push through shots/strokes (only disrespect is there, only cheating is there) violating Statutes Art 22, nr 1.. Are you comfortable with this situation? Do you think that “to confirm its position and direction regarding the application of its Statutes and Rules”, UMB is able to create an "ad hoc" Commission to look at the videos at our disposal to demonstrate all the “push through” shots/strokes, without Referee intervention or a Player’s assumption, and, with that result, a Disciplinary Commission or Committee may infer if a clear continuous violation exists and suspensions can be brought to those Players? Again, are you comfortable?

References:
Rules Article 41 – Fouls – “There is a foul and one has to quit: (…) 7. If the player pushes through (indicated by "pushed through"). There is a pushing through: (…) b) as soon as the leather tip is still in contact with the cue-ball at the moment where it touches the second ball;"
Rules, Article 1: “(The Rules) are applicable at all world championships and intercontinental tournaments officially recognized by the UMB”;
Rules, Article 91, Infringements: “Each infringement of the present rules will be treated according to the statutory regulations relating to disciplinary proceedings”;
Rules, Article 92, Nr 2, Enforcement: “The affiliated federations, the recognized confederations, the associated members, as well as the contractual partners of the UMB are committed to respect them and cause them to be respected”;
Statutes article 22. nr 1: “The UMB only admits recognized players to its competitions who respect the regulations (and) honor/honour the principles of a true sporting spirit (…))”

Jordi Fontdevila

Message 1/4 - Publish at December 31, 2020 7:33 AM - Edited at December 31, 2020 10:38 AM

Jordi_Fontdevila
Jordi_Fontdevila
Commenting this Great Interview, with a great Interviewer and a Great Interviewee - Part 1/2
Commenting this Great Interview, with a great Interviewer and a Great Interviewee - Part 1/2

Question: What is your supposition now, that we are much further and later about the UMB/ PBA split, the suspensions, the attitude of UMB?

Answer: This period is so different from anything known so far. And I don't feel it's the right moment to come to conclusions, although we are at the end of the year and this desire is comprehensible. Then, let's start from the beginning of the pandemic, when in March everything was stopped, including sports. We stayed home, in front of our computers and televisions which only broadcasted recorded events from the past. Those who thought that even UMB events could restart were wrong. That proves that we remain a small and averagely organized federative sport. However, I think that during the pandemic most of the top players have really preferred to stay at home rather than to travel far away to play single events.

My Comment: As you can see, this could be the moment where someone could fill the atmosphere with a comprehensible (complete, thorough) answer "about the UMB/PBA split", "about the suspensions" and "about the attitude of UMB", but he missed the opportunity and all of us know why he did it, so, follow to the next Question/Answer.

Question: What must happen to bring it all together again, or isn't there a way back? How can the breach that caused so much damage to our wonderful sport, can be repaired, that all the hated suspensions will be lifted, that all the world's top players will be able to play together again?

Answer: The indispensable condition to get everyone together into a sole organizational or legal structured unit should be first the will of all parties and the definition of common interests to pursue, and with a real common sense of equal identity. It seems to me that we are far from reaching this situation. Indeed, I would say that the division is getting even bigger now, unfortunately.

My Comment: See? What is indispensable is, guess what, "to get everyone together into a sole organizational or legal structured unit". In this world we can have options, you know, that’s the reason why we work in different places, with different persons in charge, with lots of organizations pursuing the same end, etc., unless we are sheep owned by some generous benefactor. That’s the reason why we have Amateurs and Professionals, for instance. How do you want Amateurs commanding Professionals? “With a real common sense”? Common sense of what? ”Of Equal identity?” Come on...Man. You can do better than this, I’m sure.” "Equal Identity"? Come on, Man.

(To Continue)

Jordi Fontdevila

Message 2/4 - Publish at January 1, 2021 9:26 PM - Edited at January 2, 2021 8:43 AM

Jordi_Fontdevila
Jordi_Fontdevila
Commenting this Great Interview, with a great Interviewer and a Great Interviewee - Part 2/2
Commenting this Great Interview, with a great Interviewer and a Great Interviewee - Part 2/2

Here you have other interesting remarks from the Interviewee, with my comment.

1."The PBA, which is instead a Korean private association, without the same constraints of an institute of international public law (like the UMB, the KBF and their partners)"

My Comment: YES, THEY HAVE THE 'SAME CONSTRAINTS' !! UMB, etc. are private, too, not public, even if some of them – Federations, and so on - call for Public Tax Money invoking Public Utility (and… what a utility). The institutional constraints – especially public health - are exactly the same, BUT we have Amateurs and Professionals working on the issues, and a different outcome is visible, of course, and we overlook structure after structure, piles of amateur organizational fabric, where nothing is able to move and we skip the fundamentals. We just see that things cannot move, so we blame the law. And if someone asks "What Law?", we have the answer "The Law, Man, don't you know what law is?"

2."(UMB, KBF and their partners) (are) institutes of international public law"

My Comment: What? Say again, please… Please try this: 70-30=40 instead of "(UMB, KBF and their partners are) institutes of international public law". It's better.

3."(UMB has) certain institutional goals that limit the freedom of action"

My Comment: Are you saying that SUSPENDING PLAYERS is ‘to limit the freedom of action’ and that this is “an UMB institutional goal”? Of course not, but note this, please: there is no" UMB certain institutional goals that limit the freedom of action". NOT GOALS.

4."This is for every player the real moment where he can feel freedom" (and justifying) "because afterwards, he will just have to accept all the consequences linked to his decision and, so far we know now, get in line as a good soldier"

My Comment: Yes, sure, the freedom to be expelled, the 'freedom to live under the bridge', etc,. This is really sad. The consequences are the same that having the cloths we want to our Tables: to be in a free society and to have the right to be free, the right to apply for sport activity, for work, etc., the right to not be limited by bureaucrats who just want to secure power. The freedom to fight. That “so far we know NOW” is interesting because the “get in line as a good soldier" is, somehow, “get in line and be a good soldier, NOW, because you don’t know enough". Thank you for the advise, but I will not get in line: not as a good soldier and not as a bad soldier either, and that does not depend on the Platoon, on the Company, on the Battalion or even on the Army, itself, nor on any Minister of Propaganda of an envisioned and dimensioned affair set in motion by others, not by ourselves. So, a "real moment where I can feel freedom", in billiards, is when I'm saying to ‘my’ dog to not poop and to not pee under 'my' 3-Cushion Table and he always seems to say that I do not use anything under the table, so why all that...? That’s the same with us: we do not fail to understand ourselves, we DO NOT WANT to understand each other.

5."The world of 3 cushion billiards is full with mysteries and that also contributes to create a strange atmosphere in the ambient. It can never grow up healthily by this way"

My Comment: Not only full of mysteries, but that wouldn’t trouble anyone- armies and soldiers do that, wars do that, not mysteries. I would caution to be careful about that soldier thing, even if I understand the motif. Don't go that way, if you are a smart guy.

6."So, the core of the matter finally is: can anyone find out how PBA business really is going there?"

My comment: Yes, none of us can foretell the future, what lies ahead, and that shouldn’t be concealed from us – what a shame, indeed –, so that we could move to the right brigade, to the winner brigade, without problems. That would be nice, but I wouldn't move even foretelling the future.

7."(UMB should) increase (...) the number of competitions (...) (and) the prize money, as well to keep the players at the top".

My Comment: That would be good, wouldn’t it be? Perhaps PBA may contribute with some fees to be recognized, so that you can have a better prize money. That would be great and I will tell that to the Honorable Young-Soo KIM, PBA President, if I ever get that chance. I will not forget.

Jordi Fontdevila

Message 3/4 - Publish at January 1, 2021 9:28 PM - Edited at January 4, 2021 1:17 PM

cezar3c
cezar3c
I Wonder Why........
This site has bacome: No man's Land. I don't know why all tournaments stopped. All other billiard games are still in progress. Why UMB sleeps? For God's sake..... do something.... NOW!!!!! Don't you see, that you have destroyed the game????

Message 4/4 - Publish at January 3, 2021 1:30 PM - Edited at January 3, 2021 1:33 PM

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