FIFA recently extended its decision to ban English striker Daniel Sturridge from all football activity until June 17. The former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Manchester City striker was initially banned for six weeks but the English FA appealed for a longer sentence after Sturridge was found to be in breach of betting rules.
Sturridge was found guilty of supplying inside information to his brother about an impending transfer he was considering from Liverpool to Sevilla in 2018. For millions of people, betting on football is a form of entertainment, but professional footballers are not allowed to be involved in any betting activity.
When the first six-week ban (four weeks suspended) and £75,000 fine were issued, the FA argued UEFA was too relaxed in its punishment and sought a longer ban. An independent appeal board later agreed and banned Sturridge for four months and increased the fine to £150,000. Turkish club Trabzonspor and the player came to a mutual agreement to terminate his three-year contract.
In a statement the FA said: “Following an appeal by The FA of the previous findings of the independent regulatory commission in this case, an independent appeal board has found that the regulatory commission misapplied the FA’s rules in relation to the use of inside information and made findings of fact which could not be sustained. As a result, the appeal board has found proven two further charges which were originally dismissed.
“The appeal board agreed with the FA that the penalty originally imposed on Sturridge was unduly lenient and therefore increased his effective playing ban from two weeks to four months. The appeal board also doubled the fine to £150,000.”
FIFA says the ban is for all global football activity.
While Sturridge made no bets, he did breach 11 rules regarding betting in football. He told his brother Leon that he could be about to move to Sevilla from Liverpool. Around £14,000 in bets were placed and attempts of further bets amounting to £20,560 were made connected to Sturridge in January 2018. Betting companies refused to take these further bets and informed authorities.
It is worth pointing out Sturridge never moved to Sevilla and ultimately ended up joining West Brom on loan to complete the 2017/18 season.
According to the FA, Sturridge had a “family agreement” in place where he would inform relatives about potential transfers. In a video message on Instagram, Sturridge said he disagrees with the ban and said he did not make any personal bets.
“Although the appeal panel had recognised I hadn’t bet, I was still charged. It is very disappointing and upsetting to hear the appeal panel had overturned the original, highly qualified panel’s ruling. It is devastating for me and I am absolutely gutted about it.
“My season is over and I am devastated. I don’t think it’s acceptable for me to accept wages from a team I can’t contribute to due to being banned. I’ve come to a mutual agreement with Trabzonspor to mutually terminate my contract.”
Sturridge had helped Trabzonspor to the top of the Turkish league, scoring 7 goals in 16 games since joining the club last December.