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Italian footballers sent home amid betting scandal

Published: Updated: 14:01, 15 Oct 2023
Two Premier League stars are among the three accused players

Newcastle United's Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo of Aston Villa, currently on loan from Galatasaray, have been dismissed from international duty with Italy due to their alleged involvement in illegal betting activities. The two Premier League players, along with Juventus' Nicolo Fagioli, are under investigation, with more names potentially to be revealed in the coming days.

The Italian press reported that police arrived at the Italy training camp at Coverciano to question the players about their alleged involvement in the betting scandal. Following this, the Italian FA (FIGC) decided to send Tonali and Zaniolo back to their respective Premier League clubs. This decision comes ahead of Italy's match against England on Tuesday evening.

Replacements and potential consequences

In light of these events, Samuele Ricci of Torino and Roma’s Stephan El Sharaawy have been called in as replacements by Italy's coach, Luciano Spalletti. If Tonali and Zaniolo are found guilty, any ban they receive would be applicable worldwide.

According to FIGC regulations:

  • Any player found to have been gambling on football risks a ban of at least three years.
  • The player would also face a fine of at least €25,000 ($26,520).

In a surprising turn of events, Fagioli's lawyer revealed that the 22-year-old turned himself in to authorities over the alleged illegal betting activities. Fagioli has admitted the offences and has turned over his mobile phone as evidence. Turin Chief Prosecutor Enrica Gabetta confirmed that the Italy international is being investigated, and separate proceedings have been launched by the FIGC. The specific gambling activity Fagioli has been accused of has not yet been disclosed.

Impact on Premier League clubs

Tonali has been a key player for Eddie Howe’s Newcastle since his transfer from Milan in the summer, with seven Premier League appearances and two Champions League starts to his name. Zaniolo, on the other hand, has made six appearances under Unai Emery at Aston Villa, where he is currently on loan from Turkish side Galatasaray.

The betting scandal has sent shockwaves through the football world, and the potential consequences for the players and their clubs could be significant. As the investigation continues, fans and stakeholders alike will be keenly watching for updates.

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