Updated May 17th, 2024 at 10:29 IST

Team captain and two other players arrested over alleged soccer match-fixing in Australia

Australian professional soccer has been rocked by accusations that the captain of A-League club Macarthur FC paid two younger teammates up to 10,000 Australian dollars ($6,600) to deliberately receive yellow cards in a scheme set up by a South American gambling connection.

Macarthur FC players prepare for the start of an A-League Men Elimination Final match against Sydney FC in Sydney | Image: AP
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Australian professional soccer was rocked Friday by accusations that the captain of A-League club Macarthur FC paid two younger teammates up to 10,000 Australian dollars ($6,600) to deliberately receive yellow cards in a scheme set up by a South American gambling connection.

Local media identified Macarthur team leader Ulises Davila and fellow players Kearyn Baccus and Clayton Lewis as the players arrested over their alleged involvement in the match-fixing scheme, which police say led to hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out in winnings.

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Authorities still want to interview a fourth player allegedly involved in the scheme, threatening to extradite him if he does not return to New South Wales state to face questioning.

Investigators allege yellow cards were manipulated during games played on Nov. 24 and Dec. 9. They also allege unsuccessful attempts were made to do similar during matches on April 20 and May 4.

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Macarthur played out a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory on Nov. 24 before beating Sydney FC 2-0 on Dec. 9. All three players were given yellow cards in the Dec. 9 game against Sydney.

The team beat Sydney 1-0 on April 20 before being beaten 4-0 by Sydney FC in a playoff elimination game on May 4. Macarthur finished in fifth place during the regular season.

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Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald said the players had “betrayed the trust of their supporters and the code.”

“Yellow cards and the subsequent penalties that arise out of those yellow cards could change the result of that game,” he said a media conference Friday. ”$10,000 may seem a lot of money to a young sports person, (but) that is incredibly insignificant when you consider the damage that being charged with this offense and convicted results in.”

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No further information was given about the South American gambling connection.

The southwest Sydney club said it was “shocked” by the allegations, which came after a six-month police investigation.

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State police said the probe was launched in December 2023 with the help of Britain-based officials after suspicious betting patterns were identified.

Macarthur FC chief executive Sam Krslovic said the club was caught off-guard by the arrests but it would work with authorities, adding: “Integrity of our game is a foundation pillar and we will work closely with all relevant agencies on this matter.”

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Australian Associated Press reported that Davila was arrested on Friday at South Coogee, in Sydney’s east, when police executed a search warrant as part of the investigation. Lewis was arrested in Parramatta and Baccus was arrested in Campbelltown, both western Sydney suburbs.

Davila is expected to be charged with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event and two counts of facilitating conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event. The other two players will be charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

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Authorities said on Friday the players were yet to be charged and were still at police stations, but they were likely to be given bail before initial court appearances.

Football Australia said it was made aware of the arrests on Friday morning and was cooperating with the investigation.

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Macarthur FC has been in the A-League men’s competition since the 2020-21 season. The league has 11 clubs based in Australia and one in New Zealand, with this season’s grand final championship match scheduled for May 25.

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Published May 17th, 2024 at 10:29 IST