Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli gets seven-month ban from soccer for betting violations

October 17, 2023 7:29 PM
Photo: Shutterstock
  • Daniella Matar, Associated Press
October 17, 2023 7:29 PM
  • Daniella Matar, Associated Press

MILAN (AP) — Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli was banned for seven months by the Italian soccer federation on Tuesday for betting violations.

Story continues below

Fagioli agreed to a plea bargain with the federation, known as the FIGC, that included therapy for a gambling addiction.

In a far-reaching case with prosecutors in Turin also carrying out a criminal investigation, Premier League players Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Zaniolo were questioned by police at Italy’s training camp last week and more Serie A players could be implicated.

The 22-year-old Fagioli, who has already been seeing a therapist for his problem, alerted the Italian soccer federation’s prosecutor about the case and has been co-operating with authorities to mitigate his punishment.

That allowed the minimum ban of three years for players betting on soccer matches to be greatly reduced. Fagioli has reportedly never bet on matches involving Juventus.

The FIGC said in a statement that Fagioli has been suspended for 12 months but that five of those months were commutable in “alternative requirements.” For that, he must attend treatment for gambling addiction for a minimum of six months and he must make at least 10 public appearances over the course of the next five months at centers for young soccer players and associations for recovering addicts.

He was also fined 12,500 euros ($13,200).

Fagioli has played in six of Juventus’ eight Serie A matches this season and is considered one of Italy’s top young midfielders. He will now likely miss the rest of the season, although he could return for the final two matches after his suspension ends.

Fagioli is not the first Juventus player to be banned this season. Midfielder Paul Pogba has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for testosterone.

Fagioli’s punishment was in line with what FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said earlier Tuesday, that players with a gambling addiction needed help rather than heavy sanctions.

“These boys are like children to me and they cannot be lambs to the slaughter as they are becoming. It is not a civil way in a civil country,” Gravina said. “In Italy there exists a disease: gambling addiction is a social plague, not just one of Italian soccer. There are 5.1 million people who play and 1.5 million are suffering. It is unsurprising that some of them are also involved in soccer.

“We will not back down. But we don’t just want to condemn — and those who make mistakes will be punished — all those who ask for help will have it. The FIGC must not only punish, but support with the recovery process.”

Tonali, who joined Newcastle from Milan in the offseason, met with prosecutors in Turin on Tuesday and will be hoping that by collaborating with authorities he will receive a similar sanction to Fagioli.

“Sandro is playing an important match against gambling addiction. He will win this one, too,” said Tonali’s agent, Giuseppe Riso. “I liked what Gravina said, it’s important that the boys don’t feel alone. Well done to Newcastle, which has always been by Sandro’s side.”

The Zaniolo situation appears to be different. Zaniolo, who is on loan at Aston Villa from Galatasaray, reportedly said he played blackjack on a website that he was unaware was illegal but that he has never bet on soccer matches.

If true, Zaniolo likely would only be fined by the prosecutors, not banned by the FIGC.