Newcastle United’s midfielder Sandro Tonali has been disqualified for 18 months by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC). The ban has started to take effect in Italy and is likely to be rolled out globally by FIFA before this weekend. The period of disqualification will be reduced to 10 months if Tonali successfully completes an eight-month rehabilitation program.
In an agreement with the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, he was also fined 20,000 euros ($21,000/£17,500).
Tonali, who joined Newcastle from AC Milan for £55 million in July this year, was found to have breached Article 24 of the CGS, CGS, the FIGC’s Code of Sports Justice. This article prohibits professional football players from betting on events organized by the FIGC, FIFA and UEFA.
Tonali, Fagioli (from Juventus) and Zaniolo (from Aston Villa) are three Italy players who have been investigated by the FIGC for gambling violations.
FIGC’s President Gabriele Gravina explained why 23-year-old Tonali was not suspended for three years, as provided for by the organization’s rules: “The rules call for a certain number of years of suspension, but the plea bargain and extenuating circumstances have been taken into consideration and the players’ collaboration went above and beyond, therefore we must continue to respect the rules we have established for ourselves”, he noted.
Tonali admitted his guilt
The FIGC said Tonali’s “therapeutic plan” will last a minimum of eight months and will require him to attend at least 16 public meetings in Italy. They will be held on the basis of amateur sports associations, federal territorial centers and rehabilitation centers for gambling addiction.
Tonali’s agent reportedly stated that his client suffered from a gambling addiction and was fully cooperating with the investigation. Tonali admitted to betting on matches, including ones in which he played for AC Milan.
British campaign group The Big Step said Tonali’s case highlights the importance of football moving away from gambling. They are pushing for a complete ban on gambling advertising and sponsorship in English football, although these types of advertising have already been banned in Italy since 2019.
“Footballers are humans and if they are suffering from addiction they deserve empathy and support, not lengthy bans”, — The Big Step’s spokesperson commented.
“Every football game is wall-to-wall with gambling ads, not just across shirts but around stadiums and related media content”.
“Sending someone addicted to gambling into this environment is like sending an alcoholic to work in a pub. If you force young footballers to endorse addictive products, then don’t be surprised if they use them”.
“Ending all gambling advertising and sponsorship in football, including all parts of the shirt and in every stadium, will help to prevent harm to those on and off the pitch”.
Tonali was suspended a week after Fagioli, the Juventus midfielder, received a 7-month ban for betting on matches. He was originally facing a 12-month ban, but five of those were overturned and he was fined €12,500. He also agreed to a gambling treatment program.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our Telegram channel!