Players paid $10k to give away yellow cards in A-League games, police allege

Macarthur FC captain Ulises Dávila is one of three players from the A-League side who have been charged over an alleged betting scandal.

The NSW Police Organised Crime Squad Gaming Unit launched an investigation into the alleged manipulation of yellow cards during football games for gambling purposes.

Police will allege detectives discovered midfielder Mr Dávila, 33, had been allegedly taking instructions from a man — believed to be in South America — to organise yellow cards to occur during certain points in A-League games.

Three players have been charged with numerous offences.(Supplied: NSW Police)

The alleged offending occurred during games between November 24 and December 9 last year.

Mr Dávila received a yellow card during Macarthur FC’s game against Melbourne Victory on November 24 and another yellow card during his side’s match against Sydney FC on December 9.

Failed attempts to allegedly control the number of cards issued during games happened between April 20 and May 4 this year.

Players paid $10k for yellow card, police allege

Detectives executed five search warrants across Sydney this morning, arresting Mr Dávila in South Coogee.

A footballer sat on the ground with a ball at his feet

Ulises Dávila was arrested by detectives in South Coogee on Friday morning.(AAP: Jeremy Ng)

Police will allege a senior player paid junior players $10,000 for giving away yellow cards, acting under instruction of an organised crime figure in South America.

Assistant Commissioner Fitzgerald said the money was insignificant compared to the impact the actions of these players has had on the integrity of the game.

“We will allege that the giving out of four yellow cards and the subsequent penalties that arose out of those yellow cards could in fact change the way that result of that game went,” he said.

“While $10,000 may seem a lot of money to a young sportsperson, we will advise that is incredibly insignificant when you consider the damage that being charged with this offence and conviction results in.

“We will allege that these instance in November and December 2023, that these players betrayed the trust of their supporters.”

Police said in addition to the three players arrested this morning, they are looking for another player who is currently out of the state.

Betting done ‘predominantly in South America’

NSW Police State Crime Command’s Organised Crime Squad Detective Superintendent Peter Faux said investigators had not identified any betting in Australia, but “predominantly in South America”.

“There’s multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars being paid out in respect to the game we are alleging this occurred in,” he said.

Police officers outside a house

Police executed five warrants across Sydney this morning.(Supplied: NSW Police)

Superintendent Faux said he wanted to make it clear that there was currently no other evidence or indication that any other club within the A-League is involved.

Mr Dávila has been charged with a number of offences, including two counts of engage in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

A 27-year-old player from Parramatta and a 32-year-old player from West Hoxton have also been charged with offences, including participate in a criminal group.

All three have been granted bail to appear in court at a later date.

Mr Dávila plays as an attacking midfielder and is the first Mexican to sign with English Premier League club Chelsea in 2011, and has previously played for Wellington Phoenix.

He recently signed on for another two years at Macarthur FC.

Club ‘shocked by arrests’

Macarthur FC said in a statement the club was “shocked” by the arrests

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

Detectives from the organised crime squad are working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Sports Integrity Australia, Football Australia, Australian Professional Leagues and the NSW Crime Commission.

The investigation is ongoing.

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