A major scandal in Italy has emerged involving illegal gambling and the possible revelation of “homosexual footballers.” This scandal led to Newcastle‘s Sandro Tonali and Aston Villa‘s Nicolo Zaniolo leaving the Italian national team’s training camp ahead of their the 2024 European Championship qualifying matches against Malta and England. They both left to join their respective clubs after being questioned by the Federal Prosecutor at the ‘Azzurra’ hotel.

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) explained that the Turin Prosecutor’s Office had notified investigation records for Tonali and Zaniolo. Regardless of the nature of their actions, it was determined that these players were not in the necessary condition to fulfill their upcoming commitments.

“The Federation informs that, late this afternoon, the Turin Public Prosecutor’s Office notified investigation files to the players Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo, currently training with the national team at the Federal Technical Centre of Coverciano,” the Italian Federation statement read.

“Regardless of the nature of the acts, considering that in this situation the two players are not in the necessary conditions to face the commitments scheduled in the coming days, the Federation has decided, also to protect them, to allow them to return to their activities in their respective clubs.”

An illegal football betting ring

Meanwhile, Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli has confessed to being involved in an illegal football betting ring, shedding light on the involvement of other Italian footballers. The Minister of Sports, Andrea Abodi, emphasized the importance of proper behavior and the seriousness of the situation as it relates to addiction, rather than merely a football issue.

“There is an even more important game than Italy’s qualification for the European Championship, and that is the one of correct behaviour, taking into account a problem that is not a football problem, but a social pathology: because this is an addiction,” Abodi said according to ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’.

“The decision to send the two boys home was appropriate, also for their protection.”

In case they are found guilty of illegal betting, professional footballers such as Tonali, Zaniolo, and Fagioli could face up to three years of suspension and a fine of 25,000 euros. Furthermore, players who were aware of illicit activities and failed to report them could also face a six-month suspension.

The scandal unfolded when Fabrizio Corona, a former paparazzi king convicted of extortion, hinted at the involvement of Zaniolo and Tonali in illegal betting.

He revealed this after Fagioli‘s confession and vowed to disclose the names of more athletes suffering from gambling addiction. He suggested that this issue is more prevalent among athletes than previously acknowledged and promised to provide evidence, including audio recordings and names, to substantiate his claims.

Corona further alleged that Zaniolo even placed bets while on the bench during a Coppa Italia match. His statements led to an investigation by the Milan Police Headquarters regarding the alleged illegal betting network in the world of football. Corona, after being questioned for an hour, maintained his commitment to respecting the law.

Homosexual footballers

Additionally, Corona pledged to shed light on the topic of homosexual footballers and the challenges they face in coming out.

He believed that gambling addiction affects a greater number of athletes than previously acknowledged and sought to expose these hidden aspects of the football world.

Corona rose to fame two decades ago for publishing intimate and private photos of football stars, VIPs, and celebrities. His actions often led to legal disputes, including cases involving figures such as Adriano Galliani, Francesco Coco, and David Trezeguet, who were required to pay significant sums to prevent the release of compromising photos.

Corona‘s controversial career eventually led to his conviction for extortion, resulting in a seven-year prison sentence. He revealed his experiences during his incarceration in a book titled ‘My Prison,’ where he expressed how he profited from the misfortunes of celebrities.

In the world of football, Corona was renowned for extracting considerable sums of money from famous individuals to prevent the publication of compromising photos. Alberto Gilardino, Marcelo Brozovic and Adriano were among his victims in this regard, as he preferred to profit from such deals rather than selling the photos to magazines.

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