Brentford Football Club's star striker, Ivan Toney, has been handed an eight-month ban from all football and football-related activities. The ban follows a series of admitted breaches of FA Rule E8, which pertains to betting on football. The English international acknowledged 232 instances of betting rule breaches that took place between February 2017 and January 2021/12.
Details of the Ban
An independent Regulatory Commission found Toney guilty of placing bets on his own team to lose. Interestingly, Toney did not play in any of the matches in which he staked bets against his team. The FA clarified that there was no evidence that Toney was in a position to influence his team to lose when he placed these bets.
The FA initially sought to impose a 15-month ban on Toney due to his efforts to conceal his betting activities, which included betting through third parties and deleting relevant messages from his phone. Toney was also found to have lied during his initial interviews with the FA. However, the ban was reduced to 11 months as Toney pleaded guilty to all charges. The ban was further reduced to eight months due to a diagnosed gambling addiction and his good record.
Gambling Addiction and Mitigating Factors
A notable point in Toney's case is the acknowledgment of his diagnosed gambling addiction. Psychiatrist Dr. Philip Hopley, who attended Toney's personal hearing, determined that Toney needed professional help for his addiction. The Regulatory Commission decided to significantly reduce the ban to reflect this diagnosis, acknowledging the lack of control Toney exhibited with respect to his gambling habit as a clear reflection of his addiction.
Club Support and Future Steps
Brentford FC has expressed its support for Toney and his family, committing to do everything possible to help them address the issues raised in this case. The club considers the matter closed and anticipates welcoming Toney back to training in September and playing in the Premier League in January 2024. Despite the ban, Toney will be allowed to return to training in September.
This case serves as a stark reminder of the potential impact of gambling addiction on individuals, even those in the limelight of professional sports. The story of Ivan Toney underlines the importance of support and professional help in managing such issues. As Toney works towards recovery, the football world will be watching his journey, hoping for a positive outcome.
Biggest Football Betting Scandals
- The "Salisu Yusuf" Scandal (2018): Salisu Yusuf, assistant coach of Nigeria's national football team, was caught on camera accepting a bribe to influence player selection in the 2018 African Nations Championship. The African Football Confederation banned him for life.
- Cristiano Doni and the Italian Football Betting Scandal (2011): Former Italian soccer player Cristiano Doni was among several players implicated in a match-fixing scandal. Doni received a three-and-a-half-year suspension, and his club, Atalanta, began the season with a six-point deficit. The scandal highlighted the issue of corruption in international soccer.
- The Turkish Match-Fixing Scandal (2011): This scandal enveloped Turkish football as clubs including the champions, Fenerbahçe, were implicated. It was claimed that 19 first and second division matches were manipulated during the 2010-2011 season. Fenerbahçe was stripped of its Champions League place, and several club officials and players received bans and penalties.
- Calciopoli (2006): Perhaps the most infamous scandal in Italian football, the Calciopoli scandal involved several top-flight teams including Juventus, AC Milan, Fiorentina, Lazio, and Reggina. The teams were accused of selecting favourable referees for their matches. As a result, Juventus was stripped of their 2004-05 and 2005-06 Serie A titles and relegated to Serie B, while other teams received point deductions.
- Belgian Match-Fixing Scandal (2005): This scandal revolved around Chinese businessman Zheyun Ye, who was accused of match-fixing in the Belgian Jupiler League. Several players, managers, and officials were implicated in the scandal, leading to one of the biggest shake-ups in Belgian football history.
- Portuguese "Apito Dourado" or "Golden Whistle" Scandal (2004-2008): The scandal was centered around top-tier Portuguese football clubs Porto, Boavista, and Uniao de Leiria. These clubs were accused of influencing referees to alter the outcomes of matches. Porto was deducted six points and Boavista was relegated. Several referees and officials were banned from the sport.
- Marseille Match-Fixing (1993): Olympique de Marseille, one of France's most successful clubs, was involved in a match-fixing scandal during the 1992-93 season. Club president Bernard Tapie was found guilty of bribing opposing players in a league game to ensure Marseille would win the French title before their European Cup final. The club was stripped of its French title and relegated to the second division.