Good morning everyone.
I didn’t watch yesterday’s Champions League semi-final, preferring to go out for dinner instead. Food is good. Watching Man City no. They are boring to me. I know they are a very talented team but nothing they do is anything but football on steroids. On the field, the equivalent of a strongman competition where these oiled muscle machines strut and pose and you think “I didn’t even know there was a piece of flesh that could do that” but ultimately you’re disappointed because for all their dedication to weightlifting they are charged (and probably have a micro-mickey under those Speedos).
Just to be clear, if anyone thinks it’s sour grapes because they beat us in the Premier League, I deny that. Of course, I wanted us to beat them, but that opinion has been around for a long time. For the first time since I can remember, I will not watch the Champions League final. Sure, anything can happen in football, but I can’t see anything other than an all-round win for Man City and I’m just not interested in experiencing it.
Up the Inter or whatever they say in Italian, but it’s not going to happen.
Elsewhere, Brentford striker Ivan Toney has been banned for 8 months with immediate effect for 232 betting violations, showing that, at least in some cases, multiple accusations can have dire consequences. FA said:
Ivan Toney has been suspended from all soccer and soccer activities with immediate effect for eight months, which is until January 16, 2024.
He is a player that many have talked about moving to Arsenal as we are looking to add something to our striker lineup next season but a ban until January rules that out. It’s not the same as an injured player, and even if Brentford were to offer potential buyers a discount because of the ban (which I don’t think they would), it would be very difficult to justify that. a type of expense for a player who cannot play for half a season.
Toney’s ban is the longest in Premier League history. Joey Barton was at Burnley when he was banned for 13 months and then you have other cases such as Mr. Forgetful Rio Ferdinand failing to show up for a drug test and Eric Cantona kicking out a Crystal Palace fan. So the FA clearly considers Toney’s violations to be quite serious.
Whatever he did though, it was certainly time to explore the relationship between football and gambling. For most people, it’s a harmless enough thing, a few pounds here and there, but we know that for others it can become a real addiction. I don’t know if that’s the case with Toney, but we know our former player Paul Merson struggled for yearsto the detriment of his life, livelihood and mental health.
If Ivan Toney developed a betting addiction, the spread of this in the Premier League and across football in general certainly played a role. Brentford’s jersey sponsor is ‘Hollywood Bets’. Which isn’t to make excuses for him, I’m sure he knew the rules, but that seems pretty punishable when the reality is that he probably needs help. Clubs and leagues take the money offered by the gambling companies, and then when the player is affected, the answer is to punish him rather than look for reasons. I also think there is something of a question mark over the timing of this ban given that there are still two games left. Most likely, it won’t have a significant impact on the rest of the matches, but it might, so it seems a bit out of place.
Spinning heads mid give you the latest odds. Everything that happens in football has turned into “funny” memes with the logo of the betting company in the bottom corner. T-shirt sponsors. Billboards rotating from one bookmaker to the next. Bookmakers use really important social messaging to promote themselves. Even flagship TV shows promoting their super bet of the day through a betting company owned by the same broadcaster. There is no escape. It’s so ingrained in the game and so much a part of what we see that I don’t think we even realize how pernicious it all is.
Beyond the everyday betting stuff we all understand, those “harmless” first-goal flutters, score predictions, accumulators and all, there’s an even more unpleasant side to it all. Although sports betting is regulated in the UK, there are anonymous entities in other countries that use football to circumvent laws in other countries and no one knows where the money generated goes.
I highly recommend this article by Josimar from our friend Philippe Auclair as a good place to start. The advent of cryptocurrencies adds another layer to this and it is high time football reconsidered its relationship with betting. I hate it when Arsenal advertise their partnership with dodgybets.io, and if you’re on Twitter, you know that the biggest spam accounts outside of porn are related to gambling. Tipsters and touts, it’s all so nasty. When are the football clubs they literally profit from the losses of their own fanssomething is very wrong.
Full disclosure: For a while, when we were rebuilding the site after the OleOle defeat, we made bets on Arseblog, but I always felt uncomfortable with it and now I’m not proud of it. Since then, we have implemented a strict no-gambling policy, even when it comes to #content related to betting companies, and we regularly turn down significant sums of money to do so.
If you struggle with gambling or feel you have a problem with it, check it out https://www.begambleaware.org/
Back tomorrow with more here and a brand new Arsecast. until.