Betting Rules For Football Players In Leagues Around Europe

referee showing red card 400Over the last few years, football players who have been found to be betting have experienced a wide range of different punishments, regardless of the league they were playing in.

The rules around this, though, can be somewhat of a minefield to navigate your head around when it comes to fully understanding the different connotations and legal minutiae.

What applies to a player in one league might not carry over to another if they are switching leagues, while there are also various levels when it comes to the legalities around this.

In 2014, prior to the 2014/15 season, the English FA introduced strict rules surrounding gambling on football and a number of players have breached these since then, likely assuming that they could get away with it. This also poses the question: for the number of players who have been caught, how many have gambled on football successfully?

What Do The Rules Involve?

rules and regulationsFrom a Premier League standpoint, simply put, no players are allowed to gamble on football, regardless of the kind of bet that this is. It applies to all personnel, including players, coaches, managers, club staff, directors, licensed agents and officials at every level of the English game.

As such, in addition to the English top flight, this consists of the English Football League (EFL), National League, Women’s Super League (WSL) and Women’s Championship. Perhaps unbeknown to many, this also applies to the Northern, Southern and Isthmian leagues.

There is, however, an exception to this for those at Level 5 or below in the National League or match officials who operate at Level 4 or below.

Furthermore, the ban includes bets that are active on matches in addition to other wagers that are related to football, such as transfers and dismissals and the hiring of managers and coaches.

While football betting is strictly prohibited, players are able to bet on other sports as it stands.

What Are The Rules For Serie A?

Italy flag on brick wallItalian football has never been far from scandal over the last couple of decades – many die-hard fans of a certain age likely remember the match-fixing scandal that saw a number of major clubs face heavy punishments. However, strict regulations also apply to players not being able to bet on football, with numerous players having flouted these in recent years.

Italian sports justice lawyer Pierfilippo Capello recently explained the ins and outs: “The ban on betting is a rule introduced by the federation because football is a small world; everyone knows everyone,” he said.

“To avoid any type of suspicion or temptation, an FIGC member can not bet on football.

Interestingly, when asked if this applied to just Italy and also football, he replied: “No, in general. Who’s to say that you don’t know that your former coach is off to go coach in Estonia, for example? If you like thrills, play poker or blackjack, while you’re a footballer, you can’t do that (bet on football).”

Recently, following his move to Newcastle United, former AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali was convicted of betting breaches by both the FICG (Italian Football Federation) and the FA for 10 months. Regardless of the league, he would be based in, both football associations decided to apply this.

How Do Rules Apply In Spain?

la liga trophyIt appears that rules around footballers’ betting in Spain still appear to have a grey area surrounding it. In the case of Kieran Trippier, following his move from Newcastle United to Atletico Madrid, was banned by La Liga after telling friends to bet on his transfer.

However, despite the English FA not being compelled to stick to his 10-week ban, they decided to uphold this.

In 2016, La Liga chief Javier Tebas shed light on the issue relating to match-fixing and players betting on games: “Of course, in 380 La Liga games played each season, there’s always a very high risk [of match-fixing].

“I have proof that some players bet [throughout Spanish League football].

“Players can’t bet on competitions in which they participate. That’s obvious and a serious offence, which is punishable – not only in the League but in the [country’s] Gambling Act.

“There are three or four alerts [in the Spanish League system] for match-fixing [per season], but that isn’t high, and they don’t mean that the games are necessarily fixed.

He continued: “This phenomenon can never be controlled, but [our system] has greatly reduced the margin of risk. We know that gambling is always very rife at the end of the season, and so is the talk of the subject of briefcases and other things, but I think we’ve greatly reduced this issue.

“Our goal is to reduce the risk as much as possible and try to catch those who want to harm our game.”

It is understood that players in Spain are still not allowed to bet on any kind of football match across Europe, and this applies to all club and match officials after many cases of match-fixing over the last decade. In addition, betting on associated events is also prohibited.

What Can Be Done To Prevent Players Betting On Football?

football banIt is thought that in the Premier League, most clubs have a seminar on football betting, where attendance is compulsory for everyone who is associated. As a result, it means players are equipped with the knowledge to understand that this is illegal and they are aware of the penalties that are involved.

In terms of punishments, it remains to be seen whether these are heavy enough – certainly, Tonali’s 10-month ban appears to set somewhat of a precedent, while Ivan Toney was a similar example after being banned for eight months.

Where it could make a difference is also have the FA impose a punishment that prohibits players from being paid for a certain period of their ban (in addition to a fine), which may possibly have the desired effect.

There is the other side of the argument to consider too, that punishing players does not treat the underlying problem. While rehabilitation is part of the sanction and that may help the player in question the idea of punishing players for gambling problems certainly does not help other players come forward.