Illegal Betting Activity
Football’s relationship with betting once again finds itself in the spotlight following an investigation into illegal betting activity involving several Italian footballers. Nicolo Fagiolo, the Juventus midfielder, has been handed a seven-month ban for unauthorised betting on illegal websites.
Reuters reported that the ban was initially for a year, but the Italian Football Federation reached an agreement that five months would be suspended. Fagiolo has also been hit with a €12,500 fine and will need to attend treatment for gambling problems. It has been reported that Fagiolo has been granted some lenience as he has been cooperative and helped police with their investigations.
Other Players Involvement
According to reports, Newcastle star Sandro Tonali and Aston Villa midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo have also been questioned as part of the investigation. Both men were absent from Italy’s Euro 2024 qualifying match at Wembley this Tuesday night.
This decision, as opposed to being a punishment, is said to have been taken due to the impact it has had on the players, with both men not being ‘in the necessary condition’ to play, with the Italian manager, Luciano Spalletti describing both players as being distraught.
Sky Sports has reported that Tonali has admitted to some involvement, stating that he had placed bets on AC Milan during his time at the Italian club during a hearing at the Italian Federation. Newcastle have not made any comments regarding the issue.
Like Fagiolo, it is believed Tonali will face a reduced ban if he has admitted guilt and has helped the investigation. Guiseppe Riso, the Italian footballer’s agent, has said that his client has a gambling addiction and that he will be seeking the appropriate help.
There has been no major update on the involvement of Nicolo Zaniolo as of yet, with Aston Villa also not commenting on the matter.
A Bigger Problem
Football has been rocked by several betting scandals over the last 18 months, and this situation is likely to put even more of a spotlight on the role of betting within the sport. Following the suspension of Ivan Toney and the investigation into Lucas Paqueta, many have called for sponsorships in the game to be removed.
The Premier League made the voluntary move to remove football sponsorships from the front of shirts starting in the 26/27 season, but many believe that this will not be enough. There is continued pressure for the issue to be tackled more thoroughly, and this situation is likely to amplify this.