Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez has been suspended for violating the league’s gambling integrity rules and standards of conduct.
MLS found through an extensive investigation that the midfielder engaged in unlawful sporting gambling, placing wagers on two regular-season matches while as an active member of the league.
Hernandez will consequently sit out the remainder of the 2021 season without pay.
Major League Soccer began looking into the incident on July 5, 2021 after the player disclosed to Sporting Kansas City that there was concern about his personal safety due to gambling debts. Both the league and club acted immediately to ensure the player’s safety by contacting law enforcement and seeking the necessary support.
The league hired law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP (Paul, Weiss), in cooperation with law enforcement, to undertake an extensive process that included witness interviews, the review of online gambling accounts and betting activity on certain MLS matches.
The results show that the player violated league rules on several accounts. Hernandez placed online bets on two MLS matches while an active member of Sporting Kansas City. While his team was not a participant of either games, it remains a violation of MLS standards.
The player cooperated fully with the investigation, and thus will be eligible for reinstatement on January 1, 2022 on application to the Commissioner.
Should new information concerning this matter come to Major League Soccer’s attention, “the league reserves the right to revisit this investigation and the resulting discipline”.
Following the suspension, Hernandez confirmed on Twitter that he was seeking help for a gambling addiction.
“Over the last several months, I have been able to reassess, take responsibility for my actions and get the proper care for something that has greatly affected me,” he wrote.
I look forward to doing everything possible to get back on the field and will work harder than ever to help Sporting KC achieve its goals. 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.”