Newcastle United and Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali has been handed a ten-month ban from soccer due to his involvement in a gambling scandal. The president of Italy’s soccer association confirmed the news. Tonali, who was acquired by Newcastle for €64m ($67.6m) from AC Milan during the summer transfer window, will be ineligible to play until the next campaign. The ban applies to all levels of soccer, including international competitions, which means Tonali will miss the European Championship in 2024, where Italy is the defending champion.
In addition to the ban, Tonali is required to attend therapy sessions for his self-described “addiction” to gambling. The handling of Tonali’s situation within Newcastle remains uncertain, with conflicting reports on whether the club will suspend a portion of his wages. There is also speculation that the club may refuse to pay installments of Tonali’s transfer fee to AC Milan.
The rise in gambling-related crimes has raised questions about the inclusion of gambling clauses in player contracts. These clauses could potentially void salaries or transfer payments in the event of a gambling scandal. Such clauses would serve as an equalizer for clubs and players, protecting clubs from financial losses and providing additional incentives for players to refrain from illegal gambling activities.
The case of Tonali is not an isolated incident, as Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who has not played this season due to a gambling suspension, is also a sought-after transfer target. Despite his unavailability, Brentford has confirmed that they will continue to pay Toney’s base salary.
The introduction of gambling clauses in player contracts could help address the increasing prevalence of gambling-related offenses in sports. The NFL and NCAA have already made updates to their gambling rules to adapt to the changing landscape. Whether this incident becomes a catalyst for similar changes in soccer remains to be seen.
Tonali has been cooperative with investigators and is focused on preparing for his return next year. His agent, Giuseppe Riso, expressed hope that this experience would serve as a wake-up call for Tonali and others facing similar challenges.