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The Big Step Charity Call for Stand against Gambling in Football

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In recent years, the entwining of football and the gambling industry has become increasingly apparent, raising concerns about the impact of this relationship on players and fans alike.

Now, a charity known as The Big Step, led by individuals affected by gambling, is calling on professional footballers to take a stance against the industry's influence within the sport.

The Big Step's Plea for Change

The latest incident shedding light on this issue involves Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali and striker Nicolo Zaniolo, currently on loan at Aston Villa from Galatasaray. They recently returned to their clubs from Italy's training camp after being placed under investigation by the Italian Prosecutor's Office and the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) in connection with illegal betting activity. This case is just one in a series of allegations that have rocked the football world.

The Big Step believes it's time for footballers to stand up and be counted. A spokesperson for the charity expressed the urgency of the situation:

These moments can be seen as a tipping point and it does help show the ridiculous current situation of the relationship between gambling and football. But I think also it’s time for more and more footballers to take a stance against it because these are their colleagues, these are their peers, these are their friends that are being harmed.

SpokespersonThe Big Step

The charity is particularly concerned about the extensive advertising and sponsorship deals between football and the gambling industry. They are urging players to consider whether they want to continue promoting betting companies through their jerseys and playing in stadiums adorned with countless gambling-related adverts.

Addressing Gambling Addiction in Football

Recent cases highlight the severity of the issue. Juventus midfielder Nicolo Fagioli was fined and handed a seven-month ban (with a further five months suspended) by the FIGC for breaching betting rules. In May, England striker Ivan Toney received an eight-month suspension, and last month, Nottingham Forest defender Harry Toffolo was given a suspended five-month ban.

The situation becomes even more complex when players themselves struggle with gambling addiction. Tonali, a £55 million summer signing from AC Milan, has reportedly admitted to betting on his former club to win. His agent, Giuseppe Riso, revealed that the 23-year-old is battling gambling addiction. Meanwhile, Newcastle continues to have three betting partners—FUN88, BetMGM, and Sportsbet.io.

The Big Step's spokesperson emphasized the irony of the situation:

If you watch their (Newcastle’s) match on Saturday, you’ll see a constant rotating presence of these companies whilst one of their own employees – one of their key employees, their players – is going to be sitting there watching it, possibly even playing, trying to recover from this thing that is being advertised to him relentlessly.

SpokespersonThe Big Step

The Urgent Need for Government Action

While gambling addiction is a societal problem affecting various sports, The Big Step contends that it is particularly prevalent in football. The charity is calling for government intervention to address this issue urgently. They believe that the combination of players' financial resources, leisure time, and the pervasive gambling culture within football warrants additional safeguards.

In conclusion, the relationship between gambling and football is at a critical juncture. The incidents involving players and their struggles with gambling addiction underscore the urgency of addressing this issue. The Big Step's call for footballers to take a stand against gambling's influence and for government intervention highlights the need to reevaluate and reset the relationship between football and the gambling industry for the well-being of players and fans alike.

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