West Ham’s Lucas Paquetá Charged With Betting Breaches

After a nine-month investigation, the Football Association announced on Thursday that it has charged West Ham and Brazil midfielder Lucas Paquetá with breaches of betting regulations. The FA said in a statement that Paquetá is alleged to have “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.”

Put in plainer terms, he is being accused of purposefully, and successfully, trying to receive yellow cards in four different matches for the benefit of gamblers. According to the Guardian, the FA traced “suspicious bets” to the aptly named Paquetá Island, just off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. (“Paquetá” is the player’s nickname, coined in reference to the fact that he grew up in a Rio neighborhood named after the island.)

Shortly after the FA’s statement, Paquetá posted one of his own on Instagram, in which he said he is “extremely surprised and upset” over the charges, and that he denies their veracity:

Two of the four yellow cards related to Paquetá’s case came from late or aggressive challenges in the center of the field. The first came on Nov. 12, 2022, against Leicester. In the 60th minute, Paquetá took down Boubakary Soumaré, though the ball fell to Leicester’s Dennis Praet as the ref played advantage. Paquetá then hit Praet late after the Belgian had passed the ball forward, drawing the whistle and earning Paquetá a yellow for the foul on Soumaré:

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In the second instance, from a match against Aston Villa on March 12, 2023, Paquetá chased down John McGinn as the Villa midfielder crossed the halfway line, and slid into him from behind:

The third offense came from a professional foul. In the 65th minute of a tied 1-1 match against Leeds United on May 21, 2023, Paquetá shoved Leeds winger Crysencio Summerville to the ground in order to stop a possible counter.

It is not particularly surprising, though, that the final yellow card in question is what spurred integrity officials to inform the FA of possible corruption. In the 93rd minute of the August 12, 2023 match between West Ham and Bournemouth, Paquetá was booked for jumping up and punching a live ball after a goal kick, receiving an instant yellow card. He was substituted out of the game shortly after, a game in which he had four fouls, most of anyone on the field.

If found guilty, the 26-year-old Brazilian could face an essentially career-ending ban. While Newcastle’s Sandro Tonali was banned for 10 months back in October for gambling on soccer matches, the charges against Paquetá, which allege that he directly influenced matches and prop bets, are considered more serious. Stratford Town defender Kynan Isaac was banned for 10 years back in 2022, after it was found that he had gotten himself booked in an FA Cup match as part of a “betting scheme with friends.”


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