England striker Ivan Toney has described the Football Association as “spiteful” for its handling of his ban for breaking betting rules.
Toney was handed an eight-month suspension last month after admitting to 232 counts of breaching English soccer’s betting rules.
The FA announced Toney had been charged with 262 breaches in November, effectively ruling him out of contention for the World Cup in Qatar, but had to wait until May before receiving his ban and a fine of 50,000 pounds ($62,000).
“It came out just before the England camp,” the Brentford striker said in an interview on Kick Game’s YouTube channel that was released Monday. “Obviously I missed that and the World Cup. Honestly, that would have been my biggest dream.
“It was like, get it out now so he doesn’t go with England, and then all of a sudden they want to wait until the end of the season. It is what it is, if they want to do it that way. I call it a bit spiteful, but it is what it is.”
Toney said missing the World Cup was a “bigger punishment” than his actual ban.
An independent commission said in its report that Toney’s punishment could have been worse if not for the diagnosis of a gambling addiction.
Among the charges, 29 bets or instructions to bet related to clubs Toney was registered with or on loan with at the time.
Toney did not play in any of the seven different games in which 13 bets were placed on his own team to lose. There were 15 bets on him to score in matches in which he did play.
“None of it was match-fixing,” Toney said. “None of what I did or was accused of doing, none of it was match-fixing. If it was I understand that, ban me for eight months or if not longer.”
England coach Gareth Southgate has been critical of the wide-reaching nature of Toney’s ban, which prohibits him from training until Sept. 17 and from playing again until Jan. 17.
Toney said he was grateful for Southgate’s support and also for that shown by his club, and wants to come back as an even better player. He finished the season third in the Premier League’s scoring chart with 20 goals.
“It felt good — obviously, it’s going to, the England manager backing you and standing with you,” Toney said. “I think he probably sees it as a bit harsh as well, not letting me train or be around the team for however long. But I’ve got the right people around me.
“Every season I’ve got better, scoring more goals, and I’m hungry now to get back. When January comes, you’re going to see a different animal.”