Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali will be banned from football for 10 months over breaches of rules on betting on matches in Italy, the head of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has said.
Italy midfielder Tonali, who joined Newcastle from AC Milan this year, must also attend treatment sessions for problem gamblers and give a series of talks about his experience over a further eight-month period as part of a deal with the FIGC.
Keep readinglist of 4 items
The plea-bargain agreement, which is expected to apply to international football, was confirmed by FIGC President Gabriele Gravina. It will rule Tonali out for the remainder of the club season and the Euro 2024 tournament in June and July.
Tonali is the highest profile player caught up in a betting scandal that is shaking Italian football.
The 23-year-old was found to have gambled on matches involving his former club AC Milan before he joined Saudi-owned Newcastle in a 56-million-pound ($67.7m) move that made him the most expensive Italian player in history.
Tonali’s agent, Giuseppe Riso, recently acknowledged that his client has a gambling problem and that Tonali told prosecutors he bet on AC Milan and Brescia when he played for those clubs.
The federation acted following an investigation by Turin prosecutors into footballers in Italy using illegal websites to bet on games.
Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has accepted a seven-month ban as part of a settlement with the FIGC after admitting to gambling problems.
There was no immediate comment from Newcastle on Tonali’s ban. He made an appearance as a substitute during their Champions League 1-0 home loss to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night.
Last week, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe 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.”
The FIGC’s Gravina defended the plea-bargain system used to handle cases rapidly and reduce the more severe penalties that could have been applied.
“The rules set out a certain number of years of sanctions, plea-bargaining is allowed as are extenuating circumstances,” he told reporters.
“The lads have been incredibly cooperative so we continue to follow the rules as they are set out,” he added.
Aston Villa’s Italy midfielder Nicolo Zaniolo is also assisting authorities in their investigation into alleged illegal betting activity, the Premier League club said last week.