Newcastle United midfielder Sandro Tonali displayed visible emotion as he left the St James’ Park pitch following Saturday’s Premier League encounter against Crystal Palace.
The 23-year-old Italian international, who joined the Magpies in July for approximately £55 million, is currently under investigation by the Italian Prosecutor’s Office and the Italian Football Federation in connection with alleged illegal betting activities.
Reports indicate that more than 40 other players are also suspected of being involved in this scandal. Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has already been sanctioned with a 12-month ban, five of which are suspended, and a fine of £10,850 for breaching betting regulations.
Sandro Tonali, the former Brescia and AC Milan player, may potentially face a lengthy ban if found to be in violation of Article 24 of Italy’s sporting justice code.
Newcastle fans unveiled a flag showing their support to Sandro Tonali at St. James’ Park today ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/Wv2ITfyq50
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) October 21, 2023
Tonali was, however, given the green light to play for Newcastle after the international break and, with Eddie Howe’s side 4-0 up against Crystal Palace, the Italian replaced Bruno Guimaraes in the 69th minute.
Thousands inside St James’ Park showed their support for Tonali, who is said to be battling a gambling addiction.
And after what could be his final game for several months, the midfielder looked close to tears as he left the pitch alongside captain Kieran Trippier.
“Tonali looks like he’s crying here with Tripps’ arm around him,” said Newcastle fanKendall Rowan.
“He’s broken the rules and will face the consequences but regardless this must be an exceptionally hard time for him and I’m so glad we and the club have shown him unwavering support.”
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) October 21, 2023
A banner of Tonali with the words ‘Forza Tonali’ was held up in the Gallowgate end throughout Saturday’s game before Tonali was pushed to the front during their post-match lap of honour.
After the full-time whistle, Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said the “hardest part is ahead” for the midfielder.
“Let’s wait and see, but yes, I think the hardest part is ahead regardless of what happens,” he said.
“Immediately, you get a lot of attention and people are talking about the situation. He’s had the love of the supporters today, but that’s difficult to maintain over a long period of time. Who knows what’s ahead?
“I just think it’s great for him to know he’s got the support, not just of the senior management at the football club and the manager, but also the support of the supporters and they’re the most important people.”
— Craig Hope (@CraigHope_DM) October 21, 2023
— Keith Downie (@SkySports_Keith) October 21, 2023
Tonali and Aston Villa player Nicolo Zaniolo were questioned by police in Italy last week amid an investigation into illegal betting.