Italian federation bans Newcastle’s Tonali for 10 months for betting

The Italian football federation said on Thursday it had banned Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali for 10 months for betting, including on matches involving his former team AC Milan.

Tonali, 23, placed multiple bets before he joined Saudi-owned Newcastle in July in a 56-million-pound ($68 million, 64-million-euro) move that made him the most expensive Italian player in history.

The ban means he will miss the rest of the Premier League season and next summer’s European Championship, if holders Italy qualify.

He is the second Italian player to be banned from football in a betting scandal which came to light during the recent international break.

Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli was suspended for seven months by the Italian federation (FIGC) earlier this month and agreed to therapy of at least six months to treat his gambling issues.

Fagioli‘s debts exceeded three million euros and left him exposed to threats from those organising his bets, the probe found.

Tonali’s agent has said his client has a gambling addiction.

Tonali faced a potential ban of three years but cooperated with investigators.

Tonali and fellow midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, who is on loan at Aston Villa from Turkish club Galatasaray, were forced to leave Italy’s training camp on October 12 after being told they were being investigated by Italian prosecutors.

Tonali came on as a substitute in Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

He has made 12 appearances for Newcastle and manager Eddie Howe has said the club will fully support him.

“We will throw our arms around Sandro and protect him and try to give him the love and support he needs to find solutions to the problems he’s had,” Howe said last Friday.

“We see him being part of our team for many years. We are committed to him long term.”

The Italian betting scandal began when disgraced paparazzo Fabrizio Corona claimed that Fagioli had a gambling addiction.

Corona is a gossip specialist, famous in Italy, who has spent time in prison for illegally obtaining photographs and using them to blackmail football clubs and players.

Corona has gone on to name other players who he says have gambled on football, including Italy internationals Stephan El Shaarawy and Lazio defender Nicolo Casale, who is on the fringes of the national team.

Corona is being investigated for defamation following legal action taken by El Shaarawy and Casale. Italy and Inter Milan midfielder Nicolo Barella has said he will also defend himself against similar claims.

The Premier League has also been rocked by betting scandals.

One of its most prolific forwards, Ivan Toney of Brentford, was banned in May for eight months after he accepted breaking the Football Association’s rules on betting.

Toney, who was also fined £50,000 ($60,000) for 232 breaches of the betting rules, will not be allowed to play again until January 17 next year.


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