Leaders Milan face title rivals Juve as betting scandal rocks Italy

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AFP, Milan :
AC Milan will defend their two-point Serie A lead on Sunday night when they face Juventus, a huge match which threatens to be overshadowed by a gambling scandal rocking Italian football.

Battered by reports that former midfield star Sandro Tonali gambled on Milan matches while still playing for the team he supported as a boy, the seven-time European champions will try to hold off local rivals and closest challengers Inter Milan who take on Torino on Saturday.

Juventus are four points behind Milan in third but have again been engulfed in controversy as Nicolo Fagioli became the first player to be punished for illicit gambling, just weeks after Paul Pogba was suspended for doping violations.

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The 22-year-old was suspended for seven months on Tuesday after admitting to betting on football matches as a criminal investigation into illegal gambling platforms and organised crime bleeds into football.

Tonali, now at Newcastle United, is certain to be slapped with a lengthy worldwide ban, while disgraced paparazzo Fabrizio Corona, who has spent time in jailed for extorsion, has been threatened with legal action after also accusing Roma attacker Stephen El Shaarawy and Lazio defender Nicolo Casale of betting on matches.

“He has never gambled and has no interest in doing so,” said El Shaarawy’s legal team, adding that the accusations were “totally unfounded and slanderous”.