In his first public words since being implicated in a betting scandal, Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli has apologized for a “naive error” but also criticized newspapers for writing what he called was “rubbish.”
The statement, across two Instagram stories posted on Wednesday, came the day after Fagioli was banned for seven months by the Italian soccer federation for betting violations and ordered to undergo treatment for a gambling addiction.
“I thought I would start by apologizing not only to Juventus fans but to all fans in the world of soccer and sport for the naive error that I made,” Fagioli wrote.
“But instead I am obliged to start with the rubbish that newspapers write about me just to put me in a bad light with thousands of falsehoods … or maybe better, just to get a couple more views. I will speak soon.”
His suspension was reduced from the minimum of three years after he admitted to betting on soccer matches — but never those involving his team — and came to a plea bargain with the FIGC, co-operating fully from the start.
The 22-year-old Fagioli, considered one of the country’s top young midfielders, alerted the federation’s prosecutor about the case after Turin prosecutors launched a criminal investigation.
Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport carried excerpts from Fagioli’s deposition by Turin prosecutors. He told them he racked up debts of almost 3 million euros ($3.17 million) and had to borrow from teammates after receiving threats that the people he owed money to would “break [his] legs.”
Fagioli said the worst period was last March and April. He was shown crying on the bench during a match at Sassuolo on April 16 after being substituted following a mistake.
“I was thinking about my debts from betting,” Fagioli added.
Premier League players Sandro Tonali and Nicolò Zaniolo were questioned by police at Italy’s training camp last week and more Serie A players could be implicated.
Midfield player Tonali, who joined Newcastle from AC Milan in the offseason, has admitted to betting on soccer matches and having a gambling addiction — and has already been heard by Turin prosecutors. Aston Villa midfielder Zaniolo said he played blackjack on a website that he was unaware was illegal, but that he has never bet on soccer matches.
Reporting by The Associated Press.
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