Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali was banned for 10 months by the Italian soccer federation on Thursday for betting on teams he played for — ruling him out of the rest of the Premier League season as well as competing for Italy at next year’s European Championship.
The 23-year-old Tonali, who became the second player suspended in the widening case, agreed to a plea bargain with the federation that included therapy for a gambling addiction.
Tonali’s agent, Giuseppe Riso, recently acknowledged that his client has a gambling problem and that Tonali told prosecutors he bet on AC Milan and Brescia when he played for those clubs.
The federation acted following an investigation by Turin prosecutors into soccer players using illegal websites to bet on games.
Tonali’s ban means he will not be able to return in time for Euro 2024, which runs June 14-July 14. Defending champion Italy has not qualified yet.
Tonali’s cooperation with authorities allowed the minimum ban of three years for players betting on soccer matches to be greatly reduced.
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina said Tonali was suspended for 18 months but that eight of those months were commutable by attending treatment for gambling addiction and making at least 16 public appearances at centers for young soccer players and associations for recovering addicts.
“We can’t just think about punishing the boys and not helping them recover,” Gravina added.
“I think it’s worth a lot more, rather than a month ban, eight months of giving talks about what they went through, in an honest way and with the right behaviour.”
Last week, Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli was banned for seven months after agreeing to a plea bargain with the federation that also stipulates he undergoes therapy for a gambling addiction.
Tonali joined Newcastle from Milan in an expensive transfer in the offseason and the Italy international signed a five-year contract with the English club.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said of Tonali last week that the club is “committed to him long-term” despite the gambling case.
Tonali and Aston Villa’s Nicolò Zaniolo were sent back to their clubs this month after police showed up at Italy’s national team training camp to officially notify them of involvement in the Turin probe.
Zaniolo has said he did not bet on games.