MLS bans Sporting KC's Hernandez for gambling on matches

New York (AFP) –


Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez was suspended without pay for the remainder of the 2021 season by Major League Soccer on Friday for gambling on matches.

The 23-year-old Colombian-born American engaged in extensive unlawful sports gambling while a member of the MLS club, including placing bets on two MLS matches in violation of league rules, an independing investigation initiated by the league found.

There was no evidence Hernandez ever bet on or against his own club nor that the integrity of any MLS match was compromised as a result of his actions, the league said.

The league opened an investigation last July after Hernandez told Sporting Kansas City officials that he was concerned for his safety due to his gambling debts.

MLS and the club turned to law enforcement authorities to ensure Hernandez received support and counseling and engaged law firm Paul, Weiss to look into the matter.

Hernandez, who had one goal in six appearances this season, has been suspended since July pending probes by the league and law enforcement that included witness interviews, examining online gambling account data and analyzing bets made on certain MLS matches.

The probe concluded Hernandez was an extensive sports gambler while on the Sporting Kansas City roster, betting twice on MLS matches, neither of which involved his club.

No evidence was found that Hernandez possessed confidential or otherwise non-public information concerning those two MLS matches.

There was no evidence of any other gambling by MLS players on MLS matches.

Hernandez will be eligible for reinstatement on January 1, 2022 after cooperating with the league investigation and undergoing counseling.