Newcastle United’s Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali has decided to plea bargain with FIGC and Turin prosecutors amid the ongoing investigation over a betting scandal, as per La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The Italian trio of Tonali, Nicolo Zaniolo (Aston Villa) and Nicolo Fagioli (Juventus) were put under probe last week over their potential involvement in illegal betting.
In the aftermath, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) released Zaniolo and Tonali from the national team squad, allowing the duo to return to their respective clubs.
While Fagioli has already started cooperating with the prosecutors, Tonali has now chosen to follow in his compatriot’s footsteps in confessing his wrongdoings.
Gazzetta states that both players have breached Article 24 of the code of the FIGC’s Sporting Justice, which prohibits betting.
Players would face a minimum ban of up to three years if found guilty, but the suspension can be halved if they plea bargain.
Nonetheless, it would still lead to suspension for up to 18 months, meaning Tonali is likely to miss the Euro 2024 in Germany next year should the Italians qualify.
Recent reports also revealed that the former AC Milan star broke down following the investigation and also sought help from a therapist to overcome gambling addiction.
On the other hand, Fagioli’s ban could be around only ten months due to his immediate collaboration with the prosecutors, although he is still out of the picture for the European championship.
As for Zaniolo, the former AS Roma attacker has denied betting allegations, insisting that he played only poker and blackjack. It remains unclear what fate befalls him.
The situation is quite alarming as there are reports claiming that more than a dozen players in Serie A could be involved in betting activities.
Tonali secured a big-money move from Milan to Newcastle in the summer but his rising career has been tarnished by the latest turn of events.
Earlier this year, Brentford forward Ivan Toney was banned for betting offences, and similar problems are again starting to creep into the Premier League.
While FIGC are intending to send a strong statement by punishing Tonali severely, it will be interesting to see whether the English FA would follow suit.
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