ROME: Newcastle United’s Italian international midfielder Sandro Tonali has been banned for 10 months for betting, the Italian football federation (FIGC) said today.
The 23-year-old was found to have gambled on matches involving his former club AC Milan before he joined Saudi-owned Newcastle in July in a £56 million move that made him the most expensive Italian player in history.
The ban means Tonali will miss the rest of the Premier League season and next summer’s European Championship, if holders Italy qualify.
He is the second Italian player to be banned from football in a betting scandal which came to light during the recent international break.
Juventus’ Nicolo Fagioli was suspended for seven months by the FIGC’s disciplinary tribunal earlier this month and agreed to therapy of at least six months to treat his gambling issues.
Fagioli’s debts exceeded €3 million and left him exposed to threats of violence from those organising his bets, the probe found.
Tonali’s agent has claimed his client has a gambling addiction.
He faced a potential ban of three years for betting on matches.
Tonali and fellow midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo, who is on loan at Aston Villa from Turkish club Galatasaray, were forced to leave Italy’s training camp on Oct 12 after being told they were being investigated by Italian prosecutors.
Tonali came on as a substitute in Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat by Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League today.
He has made 12 appearances for Newcastle and manager Eddie Howe has said the club will fully support him.
“We will throw our arms around Sandro and protect him and try to give him the love and support he needs to find solutions to the problems he’s had,” Howe said last Friday.
“We see him being part of our team for many years. We are committed to him long term.”