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Sandro Tonali is the latest victim of football’s double standards

The Newcastle midfielder faces an uncertain future with Italian police investigating illegal betting on football and, as Richard Jolly writes, the game’s ubiquity ensures it touches every wider societal issue

Friday 20 October 2023 09:41 BST
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Newcastle United’s Sandro Tonali faces an uncertain future
Newcastle United’s Sandro Tonali faces an uncertain future (Getty Images)

So Sandro Tonali has provided Newcastle with greater problems than the conundrum of if and how he and Bruno Guimaraes can play together. Not least because there is the very real possibility that the Italian and the Brazilian, some £100m of imported class, may be soon barred from taking the field together. Not, it should be said, by anything Guimaraes has done.

Investigations by the Italian police and the Italian Football Federation resulted in Tonali’s removal from the Azzurri squad. Should he be banned for illegal betting on football, the £50m signing’s season, which began with one of the great debuts in Newcastle history, could be abruptly curtailed. The precedents from Tonali’s homeland are not promising: the Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli will serve a seven-month suspension for gambling on games. In Tonali’s case, there is a significant difference which could increase the sanction: he reportedly admitted to betting on AC Milan matches. Which, as he was their midfield fulcrum at the time, compounds the offence. The maximum penalty possible is a three-year ban.

Tonali may be more symptom than cause of a wider issue, more victim than offender. His agent, Giuseppe Riso, said the 23-year-old suffers from a gambling addiction. If so, he is not alone: so does Ivan Toney. The Brentford and England striker scored 20 Premier League goals last season: he has none so far this season for the simple reason he is mid-way through an eight-month ban for betting, including on his own teams to lose in games where he was not playing.

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