“Hard night”: Spalletti between European Championship qualification and possible betting fraud

The Italian national team still has to stretch a bit to be able to take part in the European Championship. In the middle, the investigations against Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo, who had already left, collapsed. For national coach Luciano Spalletti, a disruptive factor at an inopportune time.

In the middle of the European Championship qualification, he has to do without two important players: Italy coach Luciano Spalletti.

In the middle of the European Championship qualification, he has to do without two important players: Italy coach Luciano Spalletti.


A new affair involving illegal football betting is becoming increasingly stressful for the reigning European champions Italy.

National coach Luciano Spalletti justified himself on Friday for taking the two midfielders Sandro Tonali (Newcastle) and Nicolo Zaniolo (Aston Villa) out of the firing line shortly before two important European Championship qualifiers. But at the same time he also qualified: “It is right to help them defend themselves. Then justice will take its course. But if irregular things have happened, it is also right to be held accountable for them.”

The two Azzurri are being investigated on suspicion of being involved in illegal betting via an online platform. On Thursday, the association decided to take them out of preparation for the games against Malta on Saturday evening (8.45 p.m., LIVE! on kicker) and England (Tuesday, 8.45 p.m.) and to send them home immediately.

According to media reports, the professionals’ cell phones and tablets have already been confiscated by investigators. The outcome and duration of the entire matter are open. Matteo Politano (SSC Napoli) and Samuele Ricci (FC Torino) have been nominated as replacements.

“For their protection”

Spalletti did not hide the fact that all of this comes at an inopportune time in the middle of preparation for the immensely important tasks for the national team, which has been damaged apart from the recent European Championship victory (completely missed the 2018 World Cup in Russia and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar). The Napoli master coach, who was only installed a few weeks ago after a major hiccup with predecessor Roberto Mancini, said that the remaining national players had spent a “tough night” in the training camp.

“There was a lot of bitterness about what happened,” the 64-year-old added. Sports Minister Andrea Abodi said: “I think it was right to send the boys home – also for their protection.” The daily newspaper “Corriere della Sera” warned on Friday of a “tsunami” that could hit Italian football.

Because: Tonali and Zaniolo were questioned by the responsible public prosecutor in Turin. Investigations are already underway against Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli in the same affair. The suspicion in this case is that bets were placed on the outcome of games online. Fagioli denies the allegations. Gambling is allowed in Italy. However, players and officials are not allowed to bet on sports in which they are active. If convicted, you could face fines as well as suspensions lasting several years.

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