Macarthur FC ‘shocked’ after police charge three players over alleged betting corruption | A-League Men

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Macarthur FC has said it is “shocked” after three of its players were arrested and charged in Sydney in relation to an international investigation that uncovered an alleged betting corruption scandal.

New South Wales police said on Friday they had arrested and charged the three A-League footballers in early morning raids across the city following an investigation by the organised crime squad which began in December and was assisted by the UK gambling commission.

Macarthur captain Ulises Dávila is the alleged “senior player” involved in the scheme, as well as teammates Kearyn Baccus and Clayton Lewis. The three were arrested on Friday over their alleged involvement in the betting scheme which investigators said had led to hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out in winnings overseas.

The alleged betting corruption uncovered by Strike Force Beaconview related to “yellow card manipulation”, the police said in a statement.

“Investigations revealed a senior player was allegedly taking instructions from a man – believed to be offshore in South America – to organise for yellow cards to occur during certain games in exchange for profit,” the statement said.

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Police said the three players were charged on Friday, and they were waiting for a fourth player from the club to return to NSW from interstate.

They said they also expected to charge him, and would seek his extradition if he did not return in coming days.

Detectives alleged the “senior player” at Macarthur was in contact with a “controller” – an organised crime figure in South America – who requested that he “ensure that certain events occurred within games to permit illegal gambling on those events”.

The senior player then allegedly recruited “several other members of their team to ensure other acts or incidents occurred within specific games”.

Police allege the junior players were paid up to $10,000 for intentionally receiving yellow cards during games.

In a brief statement, Macarthur FC said the club was shocked.

“Integrity of our game is a foundation pillar and we will work closely with all relevant agencies on this matter.”

Det Supt Peter Faux, commander of the organised crime squad, said investigations so far suggested all the concerned betting activity occurred offshore, predominantly in South America, and that betting agencies around the world were still being contacted.

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“In relation to one of the matches, there’s multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out,” Faux said.

Faux said it was “extremely unfortunate” that the alleged actions of several players could affect the integrity of the game that so many people around the world were passionate about.

“These people are fortunate to be in a position where they’re, in some cases, paid a lot of money to do something they love.”

The early morning raids were carried out on Friday out of fear those involved were planning to leave the country imminently, police said.

Assistant commissioner Michael Fitzgerald, the state crime commander, said “all sports fans understand that even one penalty can change the way game flows and also the way the momentum of that game can be carried out”.

“[We will allege] these players betrayed the trust of their supporters and the code,” he said.

Fitzgerald said the arrests should act as a warning to young sporting professionals.

Police executed a search warrant in South Coogee on Friday morning and arrested a 33-year-old man, club captain Ulises Dávila.

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He was taken to Mascot police station and charged with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event, facilitating conduct that corrupts betting outcome of event, and participating in a criminal group.

The man was granted conditional bail to appear in Downing Centre local court on 24 June.

Simultaneously, strike force detectives executed three search warrants in Parramatta, West Hoxton and Emu Plains. Police said they arrested a 27-year-old man, New Zealander Clayton Lewis, at the Parramatta address and a 32-year-old man, Australian Kearyn Baccus, in West Hoxton.

Lewis was taken to Parramatta police station, where he was charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts betting outcome of an event, and participating in a criminal group. He was granted conditional bail to appear at Downing Centre local court on 27 June.

Baccus was taken to Campbelltown police station, where he was charged with the same alleged offences as Lewis. He was granted conditional bail to appear in Campbelltown local court on 30 May.

The allegations have renewed political calls to ban gambling advertisements in sport. On Friday, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said there needs to be a ban.

“Gambling has no place in our sports. While gambling advertising remains on our televisions, addiction continues to wreck lives, communities and sport,” Hanson-Young said.

The Albanese government is yet to respond to a Labor-led parliamentary inquiry that called for a total ban on gambling ads, despite a response being due by the end of 2023.

Police said organised crime squad detectives were working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Sports Integrity Australia (SIA), Football Australia, Australian Professional Leagues (APL) and the NSW Crime Commission as inquiries continued.

Australian Professional Leagues – the governing body for the A-Leagues, formed in 2020 to take over operational duties from Football Australia – released a brief statement on Friday but said it would not comment further.

“The work to protect the integrity of our game must be unwavering and we are liaising closely with all relevant agencies on this matter,” the APL said.

Football Australia, the governing body for the sport, said it was aware of the arrests.

“Football Australia is fully cooperating with the organised crime squad, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Sport Integrity Australia and the NSW Crime Commission in this matter,” it said.

Sport Integrity Australia said: “SIA and ACIC acted on information provided by a UK agency and worked with relevant Australian bodies resulting in a referral to NSW police.”

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