Australian Soccer Players Accused of Match-Fixing for South American Crime Group

Estimated read time 3 min read

Three Australian A-League soccer players have been arrested as part of an investigation into betting corruption. The players are accused of manipulating the number of yellow cards received in at least four games that took place in the past six months.

A former Mexico international who was once signed by Chelsea, Macarthur captain Ulises Dávila has been named by Australian media as one of those arrested Friday. He is seen in the image playing for his previous club, the Wellington Phoenix. (Image: aleagues.com)

While police did not identify the players or the team involved, Australian media has named three players for McCarthur FC, a team based in southwestern Sydney.

They are 33-year-old team captain Ulises Dávila, a Mexican national, 27-year-old Clayton Lewis, a New Zealand native, and 32-year-old Kearyn Baccus, who is South African. All three have played for their respective countries at some level.

Organized Crime

New South Wales’ Organized Crime Squad Gaming Unit began investigating the players in December 2023 after receiving a tip off from the UK Gambling Commission. Investigators said Friday they discovered a “senior player” was being paid by a South American gambling syndicate to organize yellow cards to occur during games.

This player was in contact with a “controller” – an organized crime figure based in South America.

The player’s job was to “ensure that certain events occurred within games to permit illegal gambling on those events,” according to police. He allegedly paid the other players up to AU$10,000 (US$6,500) each to get themselves booked by the referee.

The 1-1 draw that played out between Macarthur and Melbourne Victory on November 24 was one of the games that allegedly was manipulated. Macarthur received two yellow cards in that game, one of which was shown to Dávila.

Another, played two weeks later against Sydney FC, saw four yellows for Macarthur players, including Dávila, Lewis, and Baccus.

Police alleged the group attempted to fix the number of yellows in two more games but were unsuccessful.

“In relation to one of the matches, there’s multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out [in gambling winnings],” Det Supt Peter Faux.

A-League Turmoil

Macarthur FC said in a short statement on Friday that it was “shocked” by the developments.

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

Police charged a 33-year-old man Friday with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event, and two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event. A 32-year-old and 27-year-old were charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

The 33-year-old is due to appear in court June 24.

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