UEFA signs betting sponsor for Euro 2024 amid unease at soccer’s relationship with gambling

UEFA signs betting sponsor for Euro 2024 amid unease at soccer’s relationship with gambling

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — UEFA has signed an official gambling sponsor for the European Championship for the first time, a deal that comes amid growing scrutiny of soccer’s financial relationship with the betting industry.

UEFA said Thursday that the Betano online gambling brand owned by Kaizen Gaming was signed as a global sponsor of next year’s tournament in Germany. The value of the deal was not disclosed.

Betano was also FIFA’s first betting sponsor for a World Cup at the 2022 men’s tournament in Qatar.

UEFA’s deal with the Greece-based company was made despite soccer having rules that bar players, referees and officials from betting on games or having financial interests in gambling operators.

One player who will not be at Euro 2024 is Italy midfielder Sandro Tonali, who is serving a 10-month ban for betting on AC Milan and Brescia games when he played for those clubs. That suspension was part of a wider probe in Italy that also saw Juventus midfielder Nicolò Fagioli banned for seven months. Both Tonali and Fagioli have acknowledged having a gambling addiction.

So has England and Brentford forward Ivan Toney, who will finish an eight-month ban for betting violations in January.

Betano is not UEFA’s first commercial deal with the betting industry.

In 2021, bwin was signed on a three-year deal as a Europa League sponsor. UEFA said then it wanted “to engage more openly with the sports betting sector, giving greater access to market intelligence and support from both a sports integrity and a commercial perspective.”

Betting on illegal sites has long been linked to match-fixing by organized crime syndicates.

Praising its new partner Thursday, UEFA’s director of marketing Guy-Laurent Epstein said: “We believe that their industry expertise and affinity to football make them a great fit for the tournament.”

UEFA announced the sponsor deal two days before making the Euro 2024 draw in Hamburg.

FIFA never formally announced its 2022 World Cup deal with Betano on a third-tier sponsor level. It became apparent only when the brand logo appeared on FIFA promotional material in Qatar.

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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