Newcastle United has confirmed that their recent signing, Sandro Tonali, is under investigation by the Italian prosecutor’s office and the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) for alleged involvement in illegal betting activity. Tonali is reportedly considering a plea deal to resolve accusations of using illegal betting platforms to gamble on football matches. The outcome of these investigations could potentially result in a lengthy ban from professional football for Tonali. The Athletic has not been able to verify these claims, and Tonali’s representatives have not responded to inquiries.
On October 12, Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo, who is currently on loan at Aston Villa from Turkish club Galatasaray, were questioned by police in relation to an investigation into illegal betting. The two Italian midfielders were allowed to leave the squad after handing over their devices for analysis by authorities. Tonali’s agent, Giuseppe Riso, stated on October 17 that the player is battling a gambling “illness.” Newcastle released a statement on October 18, saying that Tonali is fully cooperating with the investigation. Tonali’s legal team also confirmed that he had met with prosecutors and they were seeking a swift resolution to the case.
The situation poses a serious and unfortunate challenge for Newcastle, as they just signed Tonali in June for £55 million ($66.8 million) and he still has four and a half years left on his contract. This leaves the club in a difficult predicament, especially considering their proximity to the financial fair play limits. Even if Tonali is unable to play due to a ban, his amortized costs will still count on the club’s books for years to come. In light of these circumstances, we will explore the legal options available to Newcastle if Tonali is handed a lengthy ban.
Tonali is accused of using illegal online betting platforms, which is a criminal offense in Italy if bets are placed with unlicensed bookmakers. The use of licensed bookmakers is not considered a criminal offense. Tonali is alleged to have used a site called worldgame365.me, which is an illegal platform. Reports also suggest that Tonali bet on football matches, which could lead to further sporting sanctions.
The investigation conducted by the Turin flying squad is not solely focused on football, but while gathering evidence related to illegal betting platforms, they identified both the operators and users of these platforms. On Tuesday, Nicolo Fagioli received a seven-month ban from football after pleading guilty and cooperating with authorities. The investigations into Tonali and Zaniolo are ongoing.
Tonali trained with Newcastle on Monday, and his agent, Riso, stated the next day that Tonali is battling a gambling-related “illness.” Tonali then flew to Turin with his legal team to be interrogated by the public prosecutor as part of their cooperative strategy. Italian media later reported that Tonali admitted to betting on AC Milan games during his time at the club, which could potentially lead to a harsher penalty.
Newcastle made their first public comments on October 20, stating that Tonali is fully cooperating with the investigation and they are unable to offer further comment due to the ongoing process. If Tonali is found guilty of engaging in illegal betting, he could face criminal charges and potentially receive sporting sanctions from FIFA, UEFA, and the Italian FA. Fagioli’s ban offers some indication of the possible punishment Tonali might face, but the specifics of each case will be essential in determining the actual outcome.
If Tonali receives a ban, it would apply worldwide, meaning Newcastle would be unable to loan him out to protect their asset’s value. This situation is not only a blow to Newcastle on the pitch, as Tonali was expected to strengthen their starting XI, but it also poses financial challenges due to their proximity to FFP limits.
In conclusion, the ongoing investigations into Tonali’s alleged involvement in illegal betting activity could have significant consequences for both the player and Newcastle. While Tonali is still eligible to play for the club, any potential ban would have a worldwide impact. The specific details of the case will determine the severity and duration of the punishment. Newcastle will need to navigate this situation carefully, considering both the sporting and financial implications.
Michael Johnson is your soccer guru, providing extensive coverage of soccer. With a global perspective, he delivers match reports, player interviews, and insights into the beautiful game, ensuring readers stay connected to the world of soccer.