Player appears in court over deliberate yellow cards - one week after Lucas Paqueta’s similar suspension

West Ham Lucas Paqueta midfielder has been charged with spot-fixing offences (James Manning/PA) (PA Archive)
West Ham Lucas Paqueta midfielder has been charged with spot-fixing offences (James Manning/PA) (PA Archive)

Macarthur FC midfielder Kearyn Baccus faced a Sydney court on Thursday on charges of betting-related corruption by manipulating yellow cards in A-League matches, local media reported, just one week after West Ham United star Lucas Paqueta was charged by the FA over similar offences in the Premier League.

Baccus and New Zealander Clayton Lewis are alleged to have received payments from club captain Ulises Davila to ensure yellow cards were issued in at least four Australia football league matches in November and December last year. Baccus is the older brother of Keanu Baccus, who represented the national team at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while Davila is a former Chelsea youth academy prospect who spent four years with the Blues, mostly out on loan. Lewis is a New Zealand international who briefly spent a spell with Scunthorpe United.

The three players were arrested earlier this month and charged with engaging in “conduct that corrupts betting outcome of an event” and participating in a criminal group. Mexican Davila, 33, was also charged with facilitating conduct that corrupts betting outcome of an event.

Paqueta’s FA charges allege his involvement in a deliberate booking “for the improper purpose of affecting the betting market”, suggesting he “directly sought to influence the progress, conduct, or any other aspect of, or occurrence in these matches by intentionally seeking to receive a card from the referee for the improper purpose of affecting the betting market in order for one or more persons to profit from betting”.

FA sanctions for spot fixing and Paqueta’s charges over four breaches can range from a short-term suspension over several months, to a lifetime ban if found guilty. There are also instances of players being imprisoned over match-fixing activities, in England and beyond.

Michael Boateng was given 16 months behind bars in 2014 after being charged with conspiracy to defraud bookmakers, having been arrested following a meeting with match-fixers. In 2015 the FA gave him a lifetime ban from football and all associated activity. In a subsequent interview it was claimed that Boateng was asked at the meeting if he would “take two yellow cards” during a match if asked to.

Also in 2015 Delroy Facey, formerly of Bolton and West Brom among others, was jailed for two and a half years for “conspiring to bribe non-league players” following an investigation over match-fixing.

From the A-League trio, all three were issued no fault interim suspension notices by Football Australia after their arrests, which prevent them from taking any part in the game until the legal process is complete.

Baccus did not speak during his appearance at Campbelltown local court on Thursday and his case was adjourned until June 24 when he will appear with Davila at another court in the city centre, Australian Associated Press (AAP) reported.

All three players were booked in a match between Macarthur FC and Sydney FC on Dec. 9 last year, while Davila was shown a yellow card in a fixture against Melbourne Victory on Nov. 24. Police said failed attempts at manipulation had occurred in recent matches in April and May.

Paqueta responded saying he would “fight with every breath” to clear his name and denied wrongdoing. He has until 3 June to provide the FA with his response.

Other previous instances of players being banned for betting breaches, including Ivan Toney, related to those players placing bets themselves or sharing information for the purposes of betting, making them somewhat different to the situation faced by Paqueta. Toney was banned for eight months, Kieran Tierney for 10 weeks, Joey Barton for 13 months back in 2017 and Daniel Sturridge for four months, all for this type of breach of rules.

Additional reporting by Nick Mulvenney for Reuters