Referee causes major controversy in Snooker World Championship final between Mark Selby and John Higgins

England's Mark Selby (L) plays a shot as

In what proved to be a stunning comeback from the 'Jester of Leicester', Mark Selby earned back-to-back World Championship titles after beating John Higgins 18-15 to secure his third crown in four years at the Crucible Theatre.

Selby had trailed Higgins 10-4 before miraculously winning nine out of the next 10 frames to take the lead over the veteran Scotsman, although a controversial refereeing call threatened to derail the 33 year-old's hopes of claiming consecutive World Championship titles.

With Selby leading Higgins 16-14, the Englishman looked to snooker his opponent behind the black, however, was deemed by referee Jan Verhaas to have landed up a fraction short of the ball.

The experienced referee initially called a foul for the shot before seeking clarification on whether or not the cue ball had made contact with the black from former players-turned pundits Steve Davis and John Parrott in the BBC studio.

Although replays seem to suggest that Selby's shot did make contact with the black, Verhaas, Davis, Parrott, and Brendan Moore (the referee on scoring duty) could not agree on a decision between them.

Because of this, Verhaas ultimately decided to stick with his initial call and penalise Selby for the shot.

The decision did not sit well with a noticeably unhappy Selby as Higgins went on to win the frame and put the pressure back on the current world number one with the 33-year-old's lead narrowed down to 16-15.

Here is a transcript of the conversation between Selby and referee Verhaas after the controversial shot:

World Snooker Championship - Day Seventeen

Verhass: Foul. Did it hit? I didn't see it Mark.

Selby: No?

Verhaas: No. Mark Selby, one. John Higgins, seven. Free ball.

Higgins: Can we have a replay?

Verhaas: We can´t have a replay John. I honestly didn’t see it hit.

World Snooker Championship - Day Seventeen

Selby: It looks like it hit.

Verhaas: It hit? Okay, okay.

Selby: Do you want to have a look, John?

Verhaas: No, if they say it hit then it´s fine with me. Mark Selby, one, then. I´m good with that.
Guys? Well, if they´re not sure, honestly I didn’t see it hit. I´m going to stick with my original decision then. I´m going to stick what I saw and I didn’t see it hit, so I´m going to stick with the `foul, seven´. Okay?

You can watch the shot and the aftermath in the video below.

Despite the controversial decision, Higgins' revival was short lived and Shelby went on to become only the fourth player of the modern era to claim back-to-back titles, joining the exclusive club with Steve Davis, Stephen Hendry, and Ronnie O'Sullivan.

Did Selby's ball hit the black? Did the referee make the right call? Have YOUR say in the comments below!

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