Major League Soccer (MLS) has confirmed that one of its players from Sporting Kansas City has been placed under suspension for at least the rest of the season after he broke rules by betting on two league matches. Felipe Hernandez, a midfielder with Sporting Kansas City who scored his first MLS goal in a June 23rd match against the Colorado Rapids, was suspended by the league after he admitted that he placed bets on league matches. However, the 23-year-old soccer player stressed that none of the two league matches involved his own team.
According to a statement released by the MLS, Felipe Hernandez was involved in an extensive and unlawful sports betting, which is against the league’s gambling integrity rules. The disgraced young player met with league officials in July this year, revealing that he feared for his safety due to gambling debts. The midfielder has since been on leave without pay and he has been undergoing treatment for gambling addiction.
MLS officials contacted law enforcement authorities and brought in Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP to for conducting an independent review. Conducted in association with the law enforcement, the review involved questioning a number of witnesses, and accessing Hernandez and some other individuals’ online wagering accounts. During the independent review, betting activity on some league matches was also analyzed.
The investigators didn’t find any evidence about sharing of inside information by Hernandez, nor did they find anything indicating he bet on an MLS match involving his own team. The investigators also didn’t find any evidence indicating that any of the two matches reviewed by them had its integrity compromised by Hernandez’s betting activity.
Nevertheless, the league placed the midfielder under suspension in the post-PASPA era, saying he broke the league’s gambling integrity rules. The league underlined that it gives top priority to integrity of the game and safety of players.
Announcing Hernandez’s suspension, league officials said, “The integrity of our game and safety of players is the leagues’ top priority. MLS thanks law enforcement, Sporting Kansas City, and the MLS Players Association for their cooperation and assistance in this matter.”
Since 2019, Hernandez has played in nearly two dozen MLS games. Appearing in five straight games, he scored his first MLS goal and registered a couple of his three career assists. In a recent Twitter post, he would use the time away from the sport to get proper care for something that has deeply affected him.