Only a few months ago, the UK’s Football Association (FA) handed soccer player Ivan Toney an eight-month ban for violating the organization’s sports betting rules. He faced 232 counts of misconduct, which could be a hint of what’s to come, now that Harry Toffolo potentially faces 375 counts.
Harry Toffolo on the soccer field for Nottingham Forest during a game. He has to respond to allegations of multiple violations of the Football Association’s betting rules. (Image: Getty Images)
The FA is investigating the Nottingham Forest defender for allegedly placing more than 375 bets between Jan. 22, 2014, and March 18, 2017. During those four years, Toffolo was with Norwich City, but was loaned out to several teams, including Swindon Town, Rotherham United, and others.
Toffolo allegedly violated FA rules that prohibit players from betting or sharing information with others that might affect bets. He has until July 19 to respond to the charges.
It isn’t clear how Toffolo may have violated the rules or how the FA learned of his actions. At least with Toney, some of his betting activity was relatively recent (2020-21), and would be easier to track.
— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) July 12, 2023
Nottingham Forest signed Toffolo one year ago. He was part of a deal that included Lewis O’Brien, with both heading to their new club for a combined £10 million (US$13.02 million).
According to the earliest data, Toffolo reportedly violated the FA’s rules nine years ago, when he would have been 18 years old. While not an excuse, an argument could be made that his youthful immaturity could have led him to not understand his actions.
There’s also an argument that the FA must take some responsibility as well. In response to the organization’s tweet, Thomas Bradley pointed out, “Serious amount of irony here, as the FA plastered Ladbrokes – and other betting providers before then – everywhere as an official partner during the entire period of the alleged offenses.”
Toney’s sentence was reduced after it was revealed that he suffered from a gambling addiction. He bet on games in which he played, as well as games in which his team played, but he didn’t.
The FA wanted to ban Toney for 15 months, but reduced the penalty because of his admission of guilt. If the charges against Toffolo are similar to Toney’s, he knows what he might expect from the investigation.
Toney and Toffolo aren’t the only English soccer players to run into trouble with the FA. Newcastle’s Kieran Trippier, during the time he was with Spain’s Atlético Madrid, also violated the rules and received a 10-week ban as a result.
More Trouble Ahead
Other players may soon join the banned club. In the comments that followed the FA’s announcement, several people began pointing fingers. More than once, the names Jonjo Shelvey and Sam Hoskins came up, with calls for the FA to investigate them.
It’s not just English soccer that is experiencing issues. The NFL recently handed down a series of bans because of violations of league betting rules. Violations have also hit the eSports realm, with several players and a coach in the NBA 2K League receiving bans last year.
Issues in the NCAA are also starting to appear. As part of the fallout from the high-profile case involving University of Alabama baseball, the organization told the Associated Press this week that it has uncovered 175 violations.
Those are only what it has been able to determine since 2018, as there are potentially more violations it will never find. Currently, the NCAA has 17 open investigations, although it won’t provide details about who’s involved.
The organization explained that the violations range from bets of as little as $5 to insider trading. Overall, there doesn’t appear to be a widespread issue. It told the AP that less than 0.25% of its total number of sporting events, around 13K, had been flagged for suspicious betting activity. Out of that percentage, only a fraction had “specific, actionable information.”
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