The growth of gambling in sports is a complicated subject, one where there are several different valid points of view to be had. The conversation around whether gambling should be joined at the hip to professional sports leagues is a separate discussion from players gambling on their own matches, however, and if reports are to be believed, several current and former Serie A players may have been involved in a massive gambling ring, including former Roma star Nicolò Zaniolo, Newcastle and Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali, and Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli.
Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo reportedly admitted to police that they had gambled on illegal platforms, but claimed none of the bets were on football.https://t.co/iiIkFUD4xJ #Tonali #Zaniolo #NUFC #AVFC #Azzurri #SerieA #Calcio— Football Italia (@footballitalia) October 13, 2023
Zaniolo looks as if he is under far more of a microscope than the others who have been named to date, as ANSA claims that the Aston Villa forward could be charged with actively organizing and spreading the illegal betting ring, but make no mistake: if the rumors are true, this will be a massive development in Italian football that could lead to serious suspensions.
That part of the story alone would likely warrant an article from us here at Chiesa di Totti, because of Zaniolo’s history with the club and because of the potential future impacts to Serie A and the Azzurri. However, news coming out of Italy today has now firmly made this a Roma story, with the gossip columnist who first implicated Zaniolo, Tonali, and Fagioli now claiming that Nicola Zalewski was also involved in illegal gambling. Some reports go as far as suggesting that Zalewski bet on himself getting a yellow card during matches - something which is clearly unacceptable in the world of sports.
Gossip columnist Fabrizio Corona has publicly named Roma full back Nicola Zalewski as the fourth player implicated in the growing Serie A betting scandal.https://t.co/MDvaA62smZ #Zalewski #ASRoma #SerieA #Calcio— Football Italia (@footballitalia) October 13, 2023
The Polish international has been having a rough go of it at the club level recently, as he’s barely featured in the first team this season after becoming a mainstay of the side during Mourinho’s first two seasons with the Giallorossi. By all accounts, though, Zalewski had the support of the manager and the club during this drop in form, with Mourinho even suggesting to the Roman-born fullback that he ask to take part in Poland’s U-21 setup this international break so that he could get consistent minutes and perhaps rediscover his form. Zalewski followed this advice, and while Leonardo Spinazzola has taken the lion’s share of the minutes at left wing-back this season, I still had hope that Zalewski could rediscover the form that made him an consistent part of the starting eleven for the past couple seasons.
That promise of a return to form and more could all change with these allegations in the air. Until they are disproven or confirmed, Zalewski’s reported involvement in illegal gambling will further cloud his future at the club and for his national team. Despite this, it should be noted that in the immediate aftermath of this report, Zalewski’s team has indicated that they will be suing the journalist who made these allegations. In addition, while Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Zaniolo dropped out of Italian National Team training due to their reported involvement, Zalewski has continued to train with the Polish U-21 side.
When it comes to questionably-sourced reports alleging major news, it’s always best to take things with a grain of salt. We’ll continue to follow this story here at Chiesa di Totti as it develops, but for everyone’s sake, let’s hope that Zalewski is not involved in this illegal betting ring. As for Zaniolo... I’m going to quote Florida Evans from Good Times: damn, damn, damn.