Turmoil Hits Italian Soccer as Key Players Depart Amidst Investigation
|Sandro Tonali of Italy warms up during Italy training session at Centro Tecnico Federale di Coverciano on October 12, 2023 in Florence, Italy. (Image-Getty)
The Italian national soccer team was struck with turbulence as two of its key players, Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo, abruptly departed from the Azzuri's headquarters on Thursday. The Italian soccer federation (FIGC) confirmed that the players were informed of their involvement in an investigation by prosecutors from Turin while they were at the national team's training center in Coverciano, just ahead of the crucial European Championship qualifiers against Malta and England.
In a statement, the FIGC refrained from divulging specific details about the nature of the investigation, yet they made it clear that both midfielders were granted permission to leave, as the federation believed they were not mentally prepared to confront the upcoming challenges on the field.
Adding to the intrigue, the Turin prosecutors had already declared their ongoing investigation into another Italian footballer, Nicolo Fagioli, with regards to alleged illegal betting activities. In the wake of these revelations, Reuters sought comments from the Turin prosecutor's office, as well as from the representatives of Tonali and Zaniolo to shed light on the latest developments.
Meanwhile, Fagioli's case had triggered a parallel examination by the FIGC prosecutors to determine whether his alleged involvement in gambling activities had any connection with soccer matches. According to the strict guidelines outlined by the FIGC's code of conduct, any player found guilty of betting on soccer matches could face severe consequences, including a potential ban of at least three years and a substantial fine of not less than 25,000 euros ($26,520).
Both Tonali and Zaniolo have been actively involved in the English Premier League. Tonali, aged 23, made a significant move to Newcastle United from AC Milan in July, while Zaniolo, 24, was temporarily secured by Aston Villa from Turkey's Galasataray in August. As the situation unfolds, the football world awaits further clarification on the intricate details of these unprecedented events.