Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali is set to be banned from football for 10 months.
The Italy international, 23, will be suspended from all football activity after being found guilty of breaching rules on gambling by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
Tonali, who joined Newcastle from AC Milan in a €70million transfer in July, will now be prohibited from playing in any matches for either Newcastle or his national team in that period.
The ban also includes a further eight months of activities around rehabilitation including therapy.
Gabriele Gravina, the president of the FIGC, said on Thursday: “An agreement has already been reached between the FIGC’s Federal Prosecutor’s Office and Sandro Tonali, which has to be endorsed by me and I’ve already done that.
“An 18-month plea bargain is foreseen, of which eight months will be activities around rehabilitation. Some involve therapy and there will be at least 16 engagements.”
Gambling is not a crime in Italy as long as bets are placed on platforms recognised by the Customs and Monopolies agencies. The use of illegal platforms is punishable with a three-month prison sentence or a fine of between €51,000 and €516,000.
However, Article 24 of the FIGC’s sporting justice code forbids the placing or taking of bets, directly or indirectly on events organised by the FIGC, FIFA and UEFA. Anyone who does risks a three-year ban and a fine of at least €25,000.
Tonali’s legal team confirmed last week that he had met with prosecutors and that they were seeking a quick resolution to the case with the FIGC set to confirm the ban on Thursday.
Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli and Aston Villa’s Nicolo Zaniolo have also been investigated as part of the same case. Fagioli received a seven-month ban from football last week after striking an agreement with the FIGC.
Zaniolo was questioned alongside Tonali during the international break at Italy’s Coverciano training base, but he has maintained he did not use the platforms to bet on sport.
Spiralling debts and threats ‘to break your legs’: What Fagioli’s deposition tells us
Tonali’s agent stated at an event in London last Tuesday that his client had been suffering from a “gambling illness”.
“Sandro is a bit shaken up by the situation,” Tonali’s agent, Beppe Riso, said last Tuesday. “But he’s already started to fight back. Sandro is a fighter.
“The biggest game has started against an illness. Sandro is used to big games and usually he wins them. Sandro’s experience will save the lives of other kids.
“I’d like to thank Newcastle. They have always been by Sandro’s side. He is training and could play on Saturday. He’s realised he has to face up to this problem. The club is absolutely by his side”
Head coach Eddie Howe reaffirmed Newcastle’s long-term commitment to Tonali last week and said, following Saturday’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace in which the Italian came on as a second-half substitute, that it was his idea for the midfielder to do a lap of St. James’ Park at the end of the match.
Devastation, tension and love: Howe and Newcastle react to the Tonali betting investigation
(Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images)