When the England squad was announced, many expected Ivan Toney to find a way in. However, a recent scandal has cast a shadow over his future. In a way, this scandal has been the first major case in a new era of sports.
Over the past few weeks, the English FA has charged Toney with over 200 breaches of betting rules. In what is the most high profile controversy with betting, this development poses some interesting questions over the relationship between the two entities.
For a span of four years, the FA allege that Toney broke a variety of betting rules. In the time before his move to Brentford, it’s supposed that he engaged in a variety of betting activity. There are still certain caveats, but it’s a blemish on a promising career.
This also has brought up more concerns with the renewed explosion in sports betting and its relation to sports. Since the pandemic, there has been a larger explosion in online betting that has changed the way sports are presented. Thus, there will be fears that this explosion will begin to affect the onfield play.
Toney has gone from one of the best feel good stories of the Prem to a career in potential jeopardy. It also gives a stark reminder of the complex relationship between betting and sports.
It was a shock to many to see a Premier League player be implicated in a sports betting scandal. While Toney is far from the first athlete to ever be involved in something like this, it’s still one of the most high profile cases of late.
The FA announced that over the course of four years, Toney broke over 200 rules concerning gambling. These violations date back to his team on loan from Newcastle and at Peterborough and end before his arrival at Brentford. One thing that has been made clear is that Toney did not bet on his own team’s performances.
No one around the FA has clarified what the exact rules have been violated and what, or if any, punishment will be doled out. Toney may be cleared of any serious wrongdoing and go back to his excellent play.
There have been plenty of other players and managers who have violated similar rules. Kieran Trippier faced a fine for revealing his move to Atletico to associates early. Then there’s the infamous calciopoli which threatened to take down Italian soccer.
Sports betting has been around soccer since the sport’s professionalization, so it’s impossible to track every instance of this type of issue. While the details will not come out until hearings, it would be beneficial to all to hear what is fully alleged. This would allow fans to see if there are any larger patterns to betting by professional athletes.
Brentford’s incredible rise to the Prem with their dominant striker has been one of the best plots of the Prem. However, Toney’s charges may leave a bruise on the club.
This will not be the last time an issue like this dominates the Prem, especially with the global rebirth of online gambling. Toney may be cleared or handed a punishment, but it’s less about the player and more about the larger sports world.
Since the start of the COVID pandemic, there has been an unforeseen explosion in sports gambling. This rise has been met with concerns over the growing intersection of that world and the sporting world itself.
Sports betting has been around for just as long as sports have, developing an interesting relationship. For that reason, it seems like sports betting is a natural part of the sporting world. To many, it’s a byproduct of watching sports and keeps some engaged as well.
However, accepting sports gambling as a benevolent force is ignoring serious cases of match fixing. One of the most egregious examples being the 1919 World Series which was fixed by some of the largest bookies in the US. It’s impossible to divorce those concerns when it comes to betting.
There have been leagues that have been consumed by betting companies that have fixed matches. Lebanon and Italy are two of the best examples, with certain clubs in Italy never being able to ever get that stink off.
Maybe these concerns shouldn’t disappear so easily. Especially with such little regulation globally, it’s a virtual wild west. In turn leading to fans and players continually doubting the legitimacy of any result.
While Toney’s case is just one example so far, it’s still a part of a larger set of concerns when it comes to the new sporting landscape. There’s a possibility that these fears will, rightfully, never be eased.
The widespread growth of sports betting over the past few years has opened up a Pandora’s box of issues. From managers taking bribes to players betting on games, it’s a new twist on a classic problem. This issue is so much more than just Toney and will dominate the sporting world for years to come.
Featured image: AP