Italian football legend defends players banned for betting offences

Gianluigi Buffon argues it is “profoundly wrong” to criminalise footballers who place bets following Italian football scandal last year  

Buffon went as far to argue that the Italian state “encourages gambling” and highlighted how gambling advertising is widespread in football.

Although gambling advertising has been banned in Italy since 2018, operators are somewhat able to circumnavigate the regulations by partnering with clubs via branded news portals.

Buffon, who himself was caught up in a betting scandal in 2006 but ultimately had his named cleared, argued for greater understanding of the causes behind gambling – while noting that should footballers bet on football, they should be punished.

Buffon explained: “Gambling addiction is not a problem of how much you spend, but of the time you dedicate to this activity.

“We have to explain this to the kids. It’s not that if you continuously make €1 bets while spending hours and hours in front of the app, then everything is ok; while if someone spends one million [euros] on a single occasion, then he is a gambling addict.”

Buffon concluded with his disdain for those who are quick to judge individuals who are found to have breached betting rules.

Buffon said: “I don’t like bigots who judge with aberrant superficiality without really knowing what the motivations are. I’ve been there, too, being smeared without having done anything.

“When things become clear, you forget to explain and apologise and you leave people with a label on them. I find this profoundly wrong.”

Earlier this year, Newcastle United midfielder Tonali was handed a 10-month football ban by the Italian Football Association (FIGC) for betting breaches while he was at AC Milan.

It was also revealed by Tonali’s agent, Giuseppe Riso, that the Italian star was suffering from gambling addiction.

Juventus starlet Nicolo Fagioli was given an initial 12-month ban, which was subsequently reduced to seven months should the 22-year-old undertake community work and gambling addiction treatment. He was also fined €12,500.

Elsewhere, on-loan Aston Villa midfielder Nicolò Zaniolo has yet to be issued with a ban or a fine despite being involved in an investigation alongside Tonali in October.

In the UK, Ivan Toney could make his return for Brentford at home to Liverpool on the 17 February following the conclusion of his eight-month ban from the sport.

The England forward was handed the ban in May 2022, but was allowed to return to club training in September. During his time on the sidelines, Toney said betting on football rules had been a “grey area” in the past.

 

​EGR Intel

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