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For as long as football has existed, there have been spectators cheering the teams on from the sidelines and placing friendly bets on the result. Today, football betting in a global industry worth millions, and for the fans, it adds a little spice and some harmless fun to the proceedings.
The problem is that footballers are people, too. Many of them are young and impressionable, and they also have money to burn and plenty of spare time on their hands. This can be a dangerous combination.
Online casinos and apps
Of course, there is more to bet on than football matches. Traditional casinos have long been the haunts of the rich and famous, and todays footballers love them as much as their predecessors. But it is the wealth of online options that makes such a difference in the 21st century. Online Casino Info is a site that puts all the different virtual casinos in one place at www.onlinecasinoinfo.com – for most of us, it is an extremely handy resource, but for these professional footballers, it led to nothing but trouble.
This one still brings pain to Leeds fans everywhere. Matteo was instrumental in the 2000/01 Champions League run, and who can forget that goal against Real Madrid to guarantee a quarter final place? When he retired in 2009, he was quickly offered an ambassadorial role with the club. At the time, however, it was not known that he had accumulated more than £1 million in gambling debts, sometimes betting £200,000 on a single horse.
Everyone loves Paul Merson. The cheeky chappie had a long and successful career with Arsenal and England, and is now a familiar face on Sky Sports. But his journey has been plagued with difficulties, and he lost over £7 million due to his gambling addiction. At the age of 40, he had to sell his home and move back in with his parents.
The talented midfielder has been part of the furniture at Doncaster Rovers for almost 20 years. While international recognition has eluded him, he has done well enough in his professional career to develop a taste for betting on the horses. However, it all came crashing down around him when he became involved in a betting scandal involving race fixing. He has always denied the allegations, but the British Horseracing Authority gave him and co-conspirator Michael Chopra a three year ban that prevented them from going anywhere near bookmakers or anyone else involved in the racing industry.
It’s not just the UK stars that can take gambling too far. Gigi Buffon is the most famous and respected goalkeeper Italy has ever produced, and at 40, he is still going strong. He is also an enthusiastic gambler, but unlike so many, he doesn’t care who knows it. Twice over the years he has been investigated in relation to illegal gambling activities, once on the eve of the 2006 World Cup and again six years later. Ultimately, he was cleared of the allegations, and in the years since, he has even served as a brand ambassador for a well known poker site.