Newcastle United’s Sandro Tonali: What’s happened, what’s next?

Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali (Photo by Nigel French/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images)
Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali (Photo by Nigel French/Sportsphoto/Allstar via Getty Images) /

Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali has admitted to placing bets on his own team while at AC Milan.

Betting scandals are hardly anything new in the world of football, but with Newcastle United’s star midfielder coming clean this week alongside Italian compatriots Nicolo Fagioli and Zaniolo being questioned about their involvement in illegal sports gambling, there seems to be a trend re-emerging this year among football players.

Let’s start with the basics of the situation. Sandro Tonali has been accused of using illegal online gambling platforms while playing in Italy along with betting on AC Milan matches (both ones he played in and was not involved in). Betting, while not a criminal act in Italy, becomes one if the suspected person involved uses illegal or unlicensed bookmakers. In addition, the investigation revealed that the Newcastle midfielder was also suspected of placing bets on football matches, as mentioned above, which brings with it its own complications for Tonali and Newcastle.

Fagioli has already received a 7-month ban, brought down from 12 months for his cooperation, and Zaniolo’s investigation continues.

Earlier this week, after Sandro Tonali and his agent came forward, Newcastle confirmed that the player is being investigated by the Italian Prosecutor’s office and the Italian Football Federation for breaching betting rules while in Italy.

While Tonali is still available for selection this weekend against Crystal Palace, it’s up to Newcastle United to decide whether or not Tonali is mentally fit for a match with everything going on at the moment.

Newcastle United have stated that Tonali is fully cooperating with the investigation, but the fear of a possible lengthy ban is looming over both the club and the player himself. Reports suggest that while the maximum ban could be up to three years, Tonali is likely to receive a lesser ban given his admission of guilt.

"“Sandro is fully engaging with the investigation and will continue to cooperate with all relevant authroties.” – Newcastle United Club Statement"

These two stories of using illegal gambling sites coupled with the news from earlier this year of Ivan Toney of Brentford for placing wagers over 200 times between 2017 and 2021, not to mention Lucas Paqueta’s potential illegal betting involvement begs the question, can the FA and UEFA be doing a better job to help curb gambling addiction?

This isn’t to say that there is no fault on the player’s side, but rather that there might be a larger conversation to be had in regard to how betting is so normalized in football. From shirt sponsors to the sheer availability and number of betting parlors and apps out there, it’s hard to get away from at times.

Tonali’s agent has stated that the player was battling against a gambling “illness.” This would be a great time for a club like Newcastle United to show their support, and not cast away their big summer signing. They have already stated they are fully behind Tonali in an effort to help him, which is a solid start. Sports wagering, while fun, can snowball into a plague if not watched carefully.

Now, as for what’s next, Newcastle United can still play Tonali in this upcoming match against Crystal Palace as the investigation unfolds. Until a final verdict is reached on just which of the allegations are true and to what extent, Newcastle seems content keeping Tonali in the squad, maybe in a bid to help him keep his mind off everything going on off the pitch now for the Italian.

When all is said and done, hopefully, Tonali along with the other footballers involved in this recent uptick in betting allegations, will receive all the help they need from both their inner circle and the powers that be in European Football to curb this addiction and get back out onto the pitch as soon as they’re ready.