Andros Townsend has admitted that "boredom" was what led him to place bets that broke FA regulations on betting integrity and has led to his fining, suspension and his voluntary removal from the England U21 Euro Championship team this summer.
In an interview given to The Sun, Townsend said his betting began as he tried to pass the time in his hotel rooms while on away trips on loan with Leeds United and Birmingham last season. He said he used a mobile app on his phone to place bets on games that he was watching on television.
"I was bored and there were TV ads promoting bets you could have on the matches I was watching.
"So I downloaded the phone app and started having small wagers to make watching games as a neutral fun. It was like giving myself a team to support.
"I was incredibly naïve and didn't realize I was doing anything wrong. I assumed as long as you weren't betting on your club, then it was OK.
"In December, the betting company informed me they were reporting me to the FA for breaching betting regulations, as you can't bet on games in a competition that either your loan clubs or parent team had played in during that current season."
The FA's Rule E8 (B), which Townsend violated, states that "Participants are not allowed to bet on the result, progress (e.g. number of corners) or conduct (e.g. number of bookings) of a match or competition in which they are participating/have participated in that season." Additionally, FA players are not allowed to place bets on competitions in which the player's home club or loan club will participate in, are participating in, or have been eliminated from.
While Townsend did not elucidate on the exact matches that he bet on that got him in trouble, if he were to, say, place a bet on a Carling Cup match after Spurs were eliminated by Norwich, or on a Europa League match not in Spurs' group he would have violated the FA rules on betting integrity. For his sake, Townsend has taken complete responsibility for his actions and vociferously denied betting on his own team.
"Speaking honestly, there was never anything sinister going on. There was no match-fixing, no betting on my team to lose, no inside information and I certainly never bet on Arsenal to finish higher than Spurs, as suggested by people on Twitter."
You can read the full story in The Sun for additional quotes from Andros. Townsend says he's planning on seeking professional help from an organization that helps people with gambling addiction, and wants to help educate young people on the dangers of sports betting.
So now we know. Professionally, this is a shot to the chin by Andros, who now misses his only shot to participate in the U21 World Cup (and perhaps any kind of World Cup), but it's not nearly as catastrophic as it could have been. Clearly it was a stupid thing to do, but at a human level it's somewhat understandable, and as long as he stays away from the bet boards for a few years it won't have any further long-lasting professional consequences.