Sandro Tonali’s 10-month ban begins after it is extended worldwide by Fifa

Sandro Tonali’s 10-month ban begins after it is extended worldwide by Fifa
Sandro Tonali has made 12 appearances for Newcastle United

Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali has begun his 10-month ban from football after Fifa extended the ban worldwide.

Newcastle say he is able to return to competitive football on 7 August 2024.

Magpies boss Eddie Howe had told a news conference on Friday morning that Tonali was still in contention to play on Saturday as the club had not yet received confirmation of the ban.

But on Friday evening world governing body Fifa said it had granted a request by the FIGC to have the ban extended worldwide.

Newcastle also confirmed the ban on Saturday, saying in a statement: “Sandro Tonali has been banned from competitive football for 10 months, as effective from Friday, 27 October 2023, following illegal betting charges by the Italian Football Federation.”

The FIGC said the Italy midfielder had breached a rule that prohibits players placing bets on football events organised by FIGC, Uefa and Fifa, and he has also been fined 20,000 euros (£17,380).

It added that the federal prosecutor and Tonali had agreed to an 18-month disqualification, eight months of which will be commuted to “a therapeutic plan” to help “recovery from gambling addiction”.

Newcastle said Tonali will participate in “a therapeutic plan and educational programme in Italy consisting of 16 commitments”.

Speaking before the ban was confirmed on Friday morning, Howe said: “We’ve heard the news, the statement, but we haven’t had anything from the Italian authorities at the moment.

“I think there’s a high chance again that he could be available for us. I still think there are a few things that have to happen before the ban is imposed, so let’s see.”

Reports have suggested Tonali will still be able to train with Newcastle despite the ban, but Howe said “we don’t know” if that is the case.

Tonali joined Newcastle from AC Milan in July for £55m, becoming the Magpies’ second-most expensive signing.

The Newcastle boss said the club had no knowledge of any potential betting breaches when they signed him.

“You make a decision at the time with the knowledge you have,” Howe said. “We really liked him as a footballer and had no idea that this was even a possibility.

“Of course, there’s a frustration and a disappointment that we’re not going to have a quality player for a period of time.

“It shows nobody knows what tomorrow will bring. It is a valuable lesson. We need a squad robust enough to deal with these things. It is part of life and football.”

Speaking about Tonali’s mindset, Howe added: “He was bright when he came on against Dortmund. From the moment this happened, his training performances have been very good.

“His mood is the same. It is there in the background and I’m sure there are difficult times for him.”

Following the announcement of Tonali’s ban, reportsexternal-link linked Newcastle with a move for former Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who moved to Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal in the summer.

Newcastle, who are sixth in the Premier League, travel to Wolves on Saturday before facing Manchester United in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup on Wednesday.

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