What Wolverhampton Wanderers boss Gary O’Neil stated regarding gambling-affiliated players

The manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Gary O’Neil, believes that the footballing world has a responsibility to safeguard young players from the risks associated with gambling. This comes in the wake of Sandro Tonali from Newcastle receiving a 10-month ban for violating betting regulations. Nicolo Zaniolo of Aston Villa is cooperating with Italian authorities in their investigation, claiming he never placed bets on football, while Nicolo Fagioli of Juventus has been suspended for seven months. Brentford’s Ivan Toney is still serving a suspension related to betting, which will last until January. Nottingham Forest’s Harry Toffolo received a suspended five-month ban for breaching the rules 375 times.

O’Neil, who once played alongside recovering gambling addict Paul Merson at Walsall and Portsmouth, stressed the need for supporting young players in this matter. He emphasized that when he was a player, there was a lack of such support, with many senior pros in the dressing room involved in gambling. It was seen as normal back then, but he now recognizes the importance of educating young players about the potential consequences on their family life, missing games, and financial implications.

Sandro Tonali banned for ten months over betting breaches

O’Neil stressed that there is a responsibility within the footballing community to provide players with proper education. Gambling may appear harmless and enjoyable initially, but it can lead to lengthy football bans and financial losses. He pointed out that during his playing days, gambling was prevalent and integrated into the culture, with betting activities occurring on team buses and people checking scores during halftime. The problem is that gambling addiction isn’t as visibly evident as some other types of addictions.

According to O’Neil, players require support and a thorough understanding of the life-altering effects of gambling, as well as the importance of following the rules. He mentioned that even though he didn’t personally have a gambling issue, being informed about the potential consequences would have been helpful. The goal is not to eliminate gambling entirely since it’s an option for everyone, but rather to ensure young players are equipped with the knowledge and support they need.

Newcastle is set to face Wolves in their upcoming match, the first without Tonali, as they aim to recover from their Champions League defeat to Borussia Dortmund under the leadership of Eddie Howe.

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