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Sandro Tonali out of Newcastle game after Fifa confirms worldwide ban

Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali has begun his 10-month ban from competitive football after Fifa extended worldwide the suspension imposed on the midfielder by the Italian Football Federation.

The 23-year-old Italy international had prepared for Saturday’s Premier League match at Wolves and was included in the squad for the trip to the West Midlands before having to be withdrawn.

Earlier in the day Eddie Howe, Newcastle’s manager, had said there was “a high chance” of Tonali playing at Molineux because it could take time for Fifa to ratify the ban. But late on Friday afternoon, a Fifa spokesperson said: “The request submitted by the Italian Football Association to extend the sanction it imposed on the player Sandro Tonali on 27 October 2023 to have worldwide effect has been granted.”

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The spokesperson confirmed the ban had come into force with immediate effect. On Thursday night the Italian federation said Tonali had broken a rule that prohibits footballers betting on matches. It added that, in agreement with the federal prosecutor, it was implementing an 18-month disqualification from playing football, with the final eight months commuted to a “therapeutic plan” designed to aid the 23-year-old’s recovery from a gambling addiction.

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Tonali will miss the remainder of this season before returning to Howe’s team in late August. Reports in Italy have indicated he will be allowed to train with Newcastle during his suspension but Howe said he did not know whether such suggestions were accurate. “Sandro’s going to have some really difficult moments ahead,” he said. “And, initially, a lot of attention.”

Howe said he had “made peace” with the prospect of losing his marquee summer signing from Milan – who has admitted to betting on his former side’s games during his time at San Siro – for a lengthy period. “It shows nobody knows what tomorrow will bring,” he said. “It’s a valuable lesson. It’s a part of life and football. We need a squad robust enough to deal with these things.”

Howe rebutted suggestions that Newcastle failed to conduct proper due diligence before signing Tonali from Milan. “I’ve seen a lot of comments from people saying we should have known,” he said. “There’s absolutely no way we could have known.

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“You can put more resources into it, but there are some things you will never know about someone’s personal life. That’s just how it is. You make a signing in good faith. There will always be an element of risk with any player that we have signed, that any player we have signed historically, but these things can happen.”

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