Juve star Fagioli hit with seven-month gambling ban

AFP , Tuesday 17 Oct 2023

Nicolo Fagioli's season is all but over after the Italian Football Federation banned on Tuesday the Juventus and Italy midfielder for seven months for gambling offences.

FILE - Juventus' Nicolo Fagioli controls the ball during the Berlusconi trophy football match between Monza and Juventus in Monza, near Milan, Italy, Saturday, July 31, 2021. Photo: AP


In a statement the FIGC said that Fagioli had been given the ban for betting on football matches, an activity which is forbidden for professional footballers, after admitting his guilt and negotiating a plea bargain.

The FIGC said that Fagioli's sentence was officially 12 months but that five of those had been commuted into a "treatment plan" centred on combatting gambling addiction.

Fagioli, 22, has to take part in "at least 10 public meetings to be held within five months, at amateur sports associations and both local football federation and gambling addiction recovery centres" according to a FIGC programme.

The FIGC added that Fagioli's plea bargain would be terminated and that he would be subject to further disciplinary proceedings should he not adhere to that programme.

Fagioli has been a rising star of Italian football since returning to Juve last year following a loan spell at Cremonese, and has played once for his country.

However, he won't be available for Juve, who have already suffered the scandal of France star Paul Pogba failing a doping test, until mid-May by which time there will only be two games left in the season.

Fagioli could have been banned for as long as three years had he not struck a deal with the FIGC's disciplinary authorities and shown that he was taking steps to combat an admitted gambling addiction.

His punishment is the first in a betting scandal which exploded while the Italian national team was preparing for two crucial Euro 2024 qualifiers with Malta and England.

Gambling scandal

The FIGC investigation is running parallel to a criminal probe into the use of illegal gambling platforms allegedly linked to organised crime.

Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo were released from the European champions' training camp last week after being questioned by criminal prosecutors for over two hours.

Zaniolo's lawyer Gianluca Tognozzi told the Gazzetta Dello Sport on Sunday that the Aston Villa forward has never gambled on football but that "it's possible he played card games like poker and blackjack on illegal platforms".

If Tognozzi's claim is true Zaniolo will not receive any ban from the FIGC but could be fined following the criminal probe.

On Tuesday Tonali's agent Giuseppe Riso admitted that the Newcastle midfielder had an "illness".

"Sandro is shaken up by the situation, but he has already started to fight back," Riso told Sky Sport.

"He's always been a fighter and now he's taken on his biggest challenge."

There is no indication as yet that any of the trio gambled on their own team's matches nor that they were involved in match fixing.

The news that Tonali and Zaniolo were being investigated was broken last week by disgraced Italian paparazzo Fabrizio Corona, who first claimed months ago that Fagioli had a gambling addiction.

Corona is a gossip specialist, hugely famous in Italy, who has spent time in prison for illegally obtaining photographs and blackmailing football clubs and players with them.

He also named Roma and Poland full-back Nicola Zalewski, who as yet is not being investigated by criminal prosecutors nor by the FIGC's disciplinary authorities.

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