Police charge three A-League players with alleged corruption

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Police have charged three players from the Australian top flight with suspected betting corruption related to the alleged manipulation of yellow cards.

New South Wales (NSW) police claim that a senior player received instructions from an “organized crime figure currently offshore in South America” to arrange for yellow cards during matches in exchange for money.

The alleged incidents occurred on November 24 and December 9, 2023.

While the police did not disclose the names of the players arrested on Friday, they confirmed that the individuals were from a south Sydney club. The trio have been immediately suspended by Football Australia.

A-League team Macarthur FC, based in south Sydney, released a statement expressing that they are “shocked and aware” of 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.

The police stated they began their investigation in December 2023, with assistance from the United Kingdom Gambling Commission.

A 33-year-old man has been charged with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event, two counts of facilitating such conduct, and participating in a criminal group. He has been released on bail and is scheduled to appear in court on June 24.

A 27-year-old man and a 32-year-old man have been charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event and participating in a criminal group. They have been released on bail and are due to appear in court on June 27 and May 30, respectively.

Police expect to charge a fourth player once he is located.

It is alleged that the senior player paid the junior players up to 10,000 Australian dollars (£5,300) to intentionally receive yellow cards.

Additionally, police claim there were failed attempts to control the number of yellow cards during games on April 20 and May 4, 2024.

“In relation to one of the matches, there’s multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars been paid out,” NSW Police Detective Superintendent Peter Faux said.

“Whilst A$10,000 may seem like a lot of money to a young sports person, we will advise that is incredibly insignificant when you consider the damage to this young person’s reputation, damage to their club and their code’s reputation,” NSW Police state crime commander assistant commissioner Mike Fitzgerald said.

The A-League said: “The APL is aware of the arrests of three A-League players by NSW Police as a result of international law enforcement coordination focused on betting corruption related to alleged yellow card manipulation in games.

“The work to protect the integrity of our game must be unwavering and we are liaising closely with all relevant agencies on this matter.”

Football Australia chief executive James Johnson stated: “This is very troubling news for the Australian football community and beyond.

“The conduct that has been alleged has no place in our game. We will do everything we can to get to the bottom of it and no stone will be left unturned.

“The integrity of football in Australia is paramount, and we will not tolerate any actions that compromise it.

“We will work closely with the NSW Police and other law enforcement agencies to assist them in their investigation.”