May 17, 2024

Sporting justice lawyer Pierfilippo Capello explains what sanctions Nicolò Zaniolo, Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Fagioli could face for illegal betting, including whether Newcastle United could terminate his contract or even sue Milan.


The players currently at Aston Villa, Newcastle and Juventus are all formally under investigation for placing bets using illegal websites, although it is not yet clear whether they were betting on football matches or other events, including blackjack and poker.

Sky Sport Italia interviewed lawyer and sporting justice expert Capello to ask what punishments they could potentially face and made some important distinctions.

“As of today, they are accused of betting via unauthorised channels, so the risk here is low. As far as we know, the Federal Prosecutor of the FIGC has not yet opened an investigation into the players.

“Once there are some federal charges, then the Turin Public Prosecutor will pass along the information. By its very nature, the sporting justice system is much quicker than the civil one.”

There is also far more scope for plea bargains, so the players are unlikely to face the three-year ban for illegal betting.

“If the player admits his guilt, he can halve the three-year ban. If he collaborates pro-actively with the authorities, then the punishment can be further diminished,” explained Capello.

It seemed heavy-handed for police to arrive at the Coverciano training camp to interview Tonali and Zaniolo on the eve of a big match.

“It was necessary, the police has to make people aware they are under investigation, whether they are football players or work in a bank, it makes no difference.”

While there have been allegations that Zaniolo bet on his own team Roma while he was in the squad, this is all still up in the air.

“Match-fixing is when you agree to set up a specific result, whereas the Federation introduced a rule banning betting because football is a small world, everyone knows each other and it was decided this was best to avoid any kind of temptation or suspicion. If you like the thrill of playing poker or blackjack, you cannot do that if you are a professional football player.”

Capello also notes that the Juventus statement released today regarding Fagioli confirms that clubs have internal ethical codes too, so have informed the players on what they should and should not be doing.

Zaniolo is on loan at Aston Villa from Galatasaray, but Newcastle United spent €80m to sign Tonali from Milan. What action could they take?

“Newcastle could suspend the player immediately, if he kept illegal behaviour from them. At the moment he is sanctioned, this will be damaging to the club, so it would be possible to terminate his contract and sue him for damages.

“As for Milan, Newcastle would have to prove that Tonali was betting while he was their player, they knew and kept quiet about it. However, knowing Italian clubs and the way they operate, that would be extremely unlikely.”

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