MLS Player Felipe Hernandez Suspended over Betting

Players in America’s Major League Soccer (MLS) are probably on quite decent wages. Not Felipe Hernandez though, well not until next season. The Sporting Kansas City midfielder has been suspended without pay for the rest of this season.

His suspension was announced on Friday October 5. It’s for breaking the MLS gambling integrity rules and standards of conduct. MLS have announced that Hernandez had placed bets on a couple of MLS matches. Doing so is totally against the rules set out by the MLS.

The allegation of extensive and unlawful gambling on sport was discovered in an investigation that began on July 5. There seems to be a lot more to this than a couple of bets placed on games.

Hernandez has told his club that he had concerns over his personal safety. This was because of his gambling debts. Once this became known, MLS and Sporting Kansas City took steps to “refer the matter to law enforcement and ensure that Hernandez received necessary support and counselling.”

Writing about the current situation, Hernandez tweeted that he is getting help for his gambling problem. “Over the last several months, I have been able to reassess, take responsibility for my actions and get the proper care for something that has greatly affected me,” he tweeted.

The Colombian-born player hasn’t been playing for Sporting Kansas City since July. This was after the MLS and law enforcement investigations began. He’d scored one goal and had two assists so far this season, having played six matches. His sole goal came in the home game against Colorado Rapids on June 24.

Neither of the matches on which Hernandez had placed a bet had featured his own team. There was also nothing to show that he had non-public information that would have given him an advantage in the bets placed. For example, knowing of team injuries or tactics.

Betting on sport still isn’t legal in Kansas. There has been a growing number of states legalizing sports betting since a ruling by a US Supreme Court judge three years ago. At present, 31 states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting.

In the past, there had been concerns about legalizing sports betting. Sports bodies feared it might affect the integrity of their games. However, MLS now have a MGM Resorts as their official gaming partner.

The MLS released a statement saying that “the integrity of our game and safety of our players” is their top priority. The 23-year-old will be eligible for reinstatement on New Year’s Day 2022.