Earlier this year, the Daily Mail highlighted how Newcastle fans had labelled him as a ‘disgrace’ following revelations he had bet against the club, whilst they paid his wages. Meanwhile, much of the focus around Tonali has been on how he is a gambling addict and needs help.
Whilst this does immediately send off red flags that there is an agenda against Ivan Toney, it doesn’t take into account a lot of factors that went against him and may have influenced the media to respond negatively to the revelations about him. For example, in January 2022, a year or so before the betting offences were discovered, a video was leaked of Toney saying ‘f*ck Brentford’. Whilst there is no link between these two events, it does attest to the character of a person when a journalist is choosing how to frame a story around them. On the other hand, Tonali has always been seen as pristine, he came from Milan to Newcastle with a positive reputation, having previously helped take Brescia from Serie B into the top division and then helped AC Milan to their first Scudetto in 11 years. As part of this move, he was praised by Milan fans for taking a pay-cut in order to join the side and was lauded by iconic Italian pundits such as Capello and Di Canio for his performances.
These reputations shape the way that these two players have been treated by the media. Not to mention other factors, such as the fact that Toney has seemingly refused to take complete responsibility for his actions, as seen on the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast hosted by Stephen Bartlett where he claims to never have known that he couldn’t bet on professional sports, despite pushback from Bartlett that Toney had known people convicted of betting charges. On the other hand, Tonali has seemingly taken responsibility, immediately following the discovery of his charges, and has handed himself over to the Turin prosecutor’s office. There is a fair argument to make that when covering addiction like these two cases, reputation and history shouldn’t play a factor in the coverage but to act like it doesn’t and there is simply an agenda against Toney, is seemingly in bad faith.
Neither of these men are hardened criminals but to say that their unequal treatment coming at the hands of a media that is solely focussed on oppressing Ivan Toney seems a bit ridiculous given that Toney has not developed a reputation for himself that is glowing, nor has he been willing to completely admit his problem. If anything, the comparison between these two stars is less to do with gambling addiction and more to do with public image, and how we desire to be portrayed by the media.