Italian midfielder Sandro Tonali, who joined Newcastle United in a marquee summer signing, has been slapped with a 10-month ban following illegal betting charges.
This unexpected development will see Tonali sidelined for the rest of the current season and unable to return to action until August 2024.
The ban, imposed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), stems from Tonali’s involvement in illegal betting activities.
The FIGC’s sanction comprises an 18-month ban, with eight months of it being commuted as the player embarks on a therapeutic plan and educational program in Italy, consisting of 16 commitments.
The ban officially came into effect on Friday, October 27, 2023.
Newcastle United issued an official statement in response to the ban, expressing their disappointment with the situation.
The statement said, “Sandro Tonali has been banned from competitive football for 10 months, as effective from Friday, October 27, 2023, following illegal betting charges by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).”
It was revealed that FIFA has endorsed the FIGC’s sanction, making it applicable worldwide.
This means that Tonali will only be eligible to return to competitive football from Tuesday, August 27, 2024.
Newcastle’s manager, Eddie Howe, expressed his “delight and surprise” when the club signed Tonali for £55 million in July, but now he faces the challenge of managing without his star midfielder for an extended period.
His cooperation in the investigation conducted by Turin prosecutors played a significant role in reducing his potential ban from a possible three years to 10 months.
It was also revealed by Tonali’s agent that he has been battling a gambling addiction.
Furthermore, if Italy qualifies for Euro 2024, Tonali will also miss next summer’s tournament in Germany.