Major League Soccer suspended Felipe Hernandez until the end of the year over breaches of gambling integrity rules. The League found that the player placed bets on two MLS games. Although MLS conducted its investigation, the League also contracted a law firm to conduct an independent investigation.
Sporting Kansas City’s Midfielder Felipe Hernandez Suspended
Major League Soccer (MLS) has announced that it has suspended Felipe Hernandez without pay until the end of the year. The suspension comes after MLS found that the Sporting Kansas City midfielder breached the League’s standards of conduct as well as gambling integrity rules. According to MLS, while being a member of Sporting Kansas City, Hernandez placed bets on two MLS matches.
“The integrity of our game and safety of players is the leagues’ top priority,”reads a statement released by MLS
It was back in July when the pro player admitted for the breaches with Sporting Kansas City saying that he was concerned about his safety due to gambling debts. Both the team and MLS took immediate action to “refer the matter to law enforcement and ensure that Hernandez received necessary support and counseling.” MLS revealed that Hernandez can be reinstated as early as January 1, 2022. Before reinstating the player, the Commissioner will consider the compliance of the player based on different directives, as well as ongoing counseling.
“I will not make any further comments at this time while I focus on my commitment to taking all the steps necessary to make a healthy return.”Felipe Hernandez
In a statement, Hernandez revealed that he stepped away from soccer to undergo gambling addiction treatment. He thanked MLS as well as Sporting KC Club and the MLS Players Association for their support. Moreover, the pro player thanked his agent, teammates, coaches and family that helped him during this difficult time. In conclusion, Hernandez said that he is looking forward to taking the necessary steps to return healthy to the field.
An Independent Investigation Looked into the Matter
In light of the situation, the MLS revealed that it contracted the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (Paul, Weiss) with a request to conduct an independent investigation. The League revealed that by now, both investigations have been completed. Upon investigating, Paul, Weiss analyzed betting activities for MLS matches, questioned witnesses and reviewed data from online gambling accounts.
Completing the investigation, the law firm concluded that: “Hernandez engaged in extensive and unlawful sports gambling while a member of Sporting Kansas City.” Paul, Weiss found that the player placed bets on two MLS matches, however, Sporting Kansas City wasn’t participating in those matches. Additionally, according to the investigation, there was no evidence that Hernandez placed any bets on MLS matches involving his team.
The law firm also did not find any evidence that the integrity of any MLS match was impacted by the sports gambling activities which were investigated. According to Paul, Weiss, Hernandez did not have access to confidential information regarding the two matches he placed bets on. Last but not least, the law firm did not find evidence that any other MLS players were involved in betting on MLS matches.