Sports betting addiction hits footballers: promote, yes; play, not | Sports

Sandro Tonali, a promising Italian midfielder who signed for Newcastle for 60 million in the last transfer window from Milan, could not imagine that his last call to the national team, while preparing for the matches against Malta and England, was going to end in a dispatch to the police.

Another teammate, Nicolò Fagioli (Juventus) cited him as the person who introduced him to a private sports betting network, in which he accumulated a debt of three million euros. The sanction that the Italian Federation imposed on Tonali, in accordance with article 24 of its sports code, will keep him away from competition for 10 months in his debut season in English football and will cost him his participation in the Euro Cup, which will be played on the 14th. from June to July 14, 2024.

Tonali did not end up bankrupt like his partner, but for experts he is a gambling addict: “One of the criteria for diagnosing a gambling disorder, according to the Statistical Diagnostic Manual published by the American Psychiatric Association, is putting a relationship or relationship at risk. a professional career,” says Bayta Díaz, a psychologist specialized in gambling addiction. Another pattern would be to bet increasingly larger amounts, as in the case of Fagioli, or to use these bets to cover up a professional or personal problem. And the most problematic thing, lying or hiding that information from the environment and trying to recover the lost money.

“It draws a lot of attention that someone puts such a lucrative career at risk just for the sensation of playing,” says Díaz. Tonali did it by betting on the victory of his then team, Milan. Another league star who put his career on the brink of a precipice was English striker Ivan Toney, from Brentford. A case of a self-made player, who three seasons ago played in the English third division, with Peterborough United. In the previous campaign he scored 20 goals in the Premier to enjoy his first cap for England.

Toney bet that his team would lose with him off the field and win when he was a starter. The sanction imposed on him was eight months away from the playing fields. A missile directly to the waterline of a team whose objective is permanence. His club president, Matthew Benham, made a fortune through a statistical betting model. Toney had to explain that he suffered from a gambling disorder: “The independent investigation used it as a mitigating factor,” recalls Paul MacInnes, the Guardian journalist who covered the case.

The Premier proposed ending betting house sponsorships for the 2026-2027 season. Of course, the ban would only affect the front of the shirt, and not the sleeves, for example. Half of the league currently has sponsorships from these types of companies on their jerseys. Aston Villa, the team led by Unai Emery, announced his sponsor, the BK8 betting house, with which he signed for three years, once the Premier’s move was announced.

Football and betting are synonymous in England, they go hand in hand,” explains MacInnes. In the media they talk about percentages before the preview of each match and it is even seen “as a hobby”. According to MacInnes, this culture does not serve to exonerate these adult professionals regarding these behaviors: “It was shown in the investigation that Toney knew the risks he was taking for his career by making those bets.” But he points to a dangerous backdrop, the exposure to which minors are subjected: “It is very difficult to argue with the fact that all this advertising on t-shirts or billboards and events with sponsors of this type in “Those that the players themselves participate in are conditioning children to make them believe that gambling doesn’t hurt anyone.”

English clubs look for subterfuges so that things are not so obvious. The newly promoted Burnley has the sports entertainment YouTube channel Dude Perfect as a sponsor of its children’s shirts, a channel in which its protagonists score impossible baskets or challenge players like Rasheem Sterling, Chelsea star, to challenges in front of the goal. . But if his father bought the adult kit, he would accompany his son to the field with the W88 betting house advertisement in front.

This was precisely the main reason that led the Ministry of Consumer Affairs in Spain to prohibit this type of sponsors, with a law that came into force in 2021: “Several studies indicate that minors are capable of recognizing brands of gaming operators with quite easily, that they can learn the mechanics of the betting game simply from advertising and that sports betting can end up being an indivisible part of the world of sports,” Ministry sources explain.

The age of the sanctioned players, 23 Tonali and 27 Toney, corresponds to the profile of people who end up in a consultation when debts or gambling addiction end up leading a life to the limit. In his 20 years of consulting, Díaz has observed how his patients are getting younger and younger. And he has not yet treated a woman for sports betting addiction: “Betting houses play with the message that if you know about soccer, you are going to win. And that’s what attracts players and coaches to bet, believing they have inside information. What is transmitted is that if you know, you win and then you are a crack,” explains Díaz.

When his suspension ends, on January 16, 2024, Toney will return to the field after spending months without training with his teammates. “It is quite likely that he will change teams, it has been rumored a lot for Chelsea and Arsenal,” explains MacInnes. But if a transfer was not achieved, Toney would put on the Brentford shirt again, with the number 17 on the back and the sponsor, Hollywood Bets, on the chest. “It is a very short time to be rehabilitated and there may be a relapse,” says Díaz, who points to the importance of the soccer player’s social and work environment, and the importance of the treatment, which will include the participation of the players in informative talks about the danger of the game. For Díaz, these risks equate the fan in the stands with the top scorer: “It doesn’t matter if you win millions or are a mileurista, the game is capable of expanding to a level that swallows everything.”

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2023-11-06 04:15:00
#Sports #betting #addiction #hits #footballers #promote #play #Sports

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