It took all of a week for news to break of Nicolo Fagioli’s gambling problems and the judgement to come down in form of a reduced suspension with the agreement of a plea deal. Suddenly, virtually out of nowhere to those of us on the outside, Fagioli’s season has basically come to an end right as it looked like he might be finding some sort of groove.
So what about the gambling problem that saw Juve’s brightest young talent suddenly in the news cycle for all of the wrong reasons?
We got a pretty big idea of what was going on thanks to reporting from Tuttosport, which published quotes from Fagioli’s testimony to the FIGC Prosecutor’s Office about the ongoing gambling investigation that detailed how it all started, how quickly it developed, how much of a gambling debt he racked up, the teammates he turned to for a quick loan and who else was involved in this. Fagioli has since been suspended for seven months as part of the plea deal that was announced Tuesday, with another five months worth of treatment attached to the deal for the 22-year-old midfielder to take part in as part as his recovery from gambling addiction.
The entirety of what Tuttosport published can be found here, albeit in Italian. We will take a look at some of the more prevalent revelations made by Fagioli during his testimony.
The fact that all of this is happening just as his career at the Juventus senior team is getting underway is quite the remarkable situation. Remember, all of this is happening in his early-20s, a time where a boyhood Juventino is now suddenly thrust into the spotlight and clearly dealing with some serious demons off the field at the same time.
(Note; translated quotes via Football Italia)
“At night, I had stopped sleeping. The more time passed, the more debts haunted me. My debts kept increasing and I was gambling just to try to make up. They told me ‘We’ll break your legs.’ I had so much debt that even if I had won, I would get nothing out of it.”
You know the classic gambling phrase that when you start losing you try and chase things to try and make up your debts? That is what Fagioli is talking about. He knew the pressure was on to repay his debts. And instead of stopping before things got worse, things got worse because Fagioli was trying to make up his losses with even more gambling.
Some of that gambling, as Fagioli has essentially confirmed in his testimony to the FIGC, was on football. He made it a point of emphasis to say he never bet on Juventus or Cremonese, but he did bet on football matches.
Fagioli said he bet on Milan-Torino as well as Champions League matches.
“Juventus have been warning us since the youth sector that we footballers should have not placed any bets, whether using legal or illegal platforms. I gambled on national and international matches but never on Cremonese or Juventus.
“I used to gamble on games that were underway. I gambled on Milan’s win that time but lost because Torino won 2-1.”
Within the same testimony, it was Sandro Tonali — who is looking at a longer suspension than Fagioli is — who Fagioli said introduced him to the betting sites that he ended up using. It was a gambling problem that got bad in a hurry, with all the access he could want right at his fingertips on his phone or computer.
So, how bad were the gambling debts that Fagioli racked up?
“I had accumulated a debt of €250,000 in September 2022 and pressure from managers of illegal platforms started. Sometimes, I would cover part of the debt by going to Milan and buying luxury watches. I paid with a bank transfer. Sometimes I delivered the watches myself, other times, the platforms’ owners picked them up at the jewelry shop.
“After September 2022, I started gambling compulsively in front of the TV on any sporting event I watched, including football, Serie B and Lega Pro. I can’t even remember how many events I placed bets on. I’ve never spoken about gambling with directors, footballers or people under contract at Juventus because I trusted nobody.”
Fagioli’s gambling problem got to the point where, according to his testimony, he was asking teammates (both current and former) for loans to try and fill the holes where he had debts. The problem was that with all of the chasing he was doing, it was impossible not to accumulate some sort of debt, thus creating even more of a hole and essentially forcing a need for even more money to come in.
“I borrowed money from some of my teammates, saying I wanted to buy a watch for my mum. (Federico) Gatti gave me €40,000 and I still have to return it. (Radu) Dragusin also gave me money and some of my friends in Piacenza too. Still €40,000, through bank transfers. I want to clarify that my friends and teammates did not know the reason why I borrowed the money.”
It has since been announced that Gatti and Dragusin — who is now playing with newly-promoted Genoa — are not involved in the Turin Prosecutor’s Office gambling investigation.
“The worst moment was between April and March 2023, when I was so scared that I made a mistake during Sassuolo-Juventus and I was subbed off. I started crying when I sat on the bench, thinking about my debts and betting problems.”
This is a pretty important admission considering that it was widely assumed that the tears Fagioli was shedding on the bench after Max Allegri subbed him out of that game last season was because of the mistake he made. Essentially the realization that he had just cost Juventus points consumed him and he was just overcome with emotion. But, as he says, it wasn’t that. It was because other things were on his mind and he knows the reality that he faced once the game was over and he went back to his life off the field that was total chaos.