Date: 17.05.2024

by Kajetan Sawicz

Betting Corruption Scandal Rocks Australian Soccer

In a blow to Australian soccer, three A-League players were arrested Friday as part of a months-long investigation into alleged betting corruption.


Unveiling the Investigation

In December 2023, the New South Wales state police and the UK Gambling Commission began probing allegations of yellow card manipulation by players linked to a southwestern Sydney club. The investigation revealed a shocking scheme: a senior player allegedly took instructions from a South American contact to organize yellow cards during specific games in exchange for illicit profits.

In a press conference, NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald said one player paid “junior” players up to 10,000 Australian dollars (over $6,500) in exchange for receiving yellow cards, adding, “Police will allege that that senior figure within that criminal group was acting under the instruction and direction of an organized crime figure currently offshore in South America.”

Arrests and Key Players

During police raids on Friday, three players from one team were arrested. The players, aged 33, 32, and 27, have not had their identities officially released. However, local media named the team as Macarthur FC and identified the arrested players as 33-year-old team captain Ulises Dávila, a Mexican national, 27-year-old Clayton Lewis from New Zealand, and 32-year-old Kearyn Baccus of South Africa.

Authorities believe the alleged scheme targeted matches on November 24, 2023, and December 9, 2023. Further alleged attempts to influence yellow cards in games played on April 20 and May 4, 2024, proved unsuccessful, police said.

“We took action today because we were concerned that the principles involved in this matter would have left our shores in the coming days and weeks,” Fitzgerald added in the press conference. He also noted that there is no evidence that players from other clubs were involved, though a fourth player who was out of state during the arrests on Friday is sought for questioning.

Reactions from Macarthur FC and Football Australia

Macarthur FC expressed its shock over the arrests in a statement to TIME, although it did not confirm the identities of the players.

“Integrity of our game is a foundation pillar and we will work closely with all relevant agencies on this matter,” the club said. Football Australia, the country’s governing body for the sport, also stated it is “fully cooperating” with authorities.

Legal Charges and Future Proceedings

Police say the 33-year-old man faces 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 are set to be charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event. All three players were formally charged and granted bail on Friday afternoon, scheduled to appear in court on later dates.

Ongoing Investigation and Broader Implications

The investigation into the alleged scheme and other potential corruption involving match-fixing and sports betting is ongoing. The New South Wales police’s Organized Crime Squad is collaborating with various agencies, including the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Sports Integrity Australia, Football Australia, and the Australian Professional Leagues.

“It’s extremely unfortunate that the actions of only several people have severely damaged the integrity of a game that so many people around the world love and so many people are passionate about,” Detective Superintendent Peter Faux said at the press conference about the arrests on Friday. “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, and unfortunately, their [alleged] actions—they’ve taken advantage of that position and brought down the integrity of not only themselves and the club that they play for but unfortunately the sport.”