Lucas Paqueta: West Ham midfielder charged by FA for alleged breaches of betting rules

23 May 2024, 14:58 | Updated: 23 May 2024, 18:39

West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta has been charged with spot-fixing offences in four Premier League matches.

The Brazil international denies any wrongdoing but the Football Association has charged him in relation to his conduct in matches against Leicester in November 2022, Aston Villa in March 2023, Leeds in May 2023 and Bournemouth last August.

"It's alleged that 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," said a statement from the FA.

Paqueta has also been charged with two breaches of FA Rule F3 in respect of alleged failures to comply pursuant to FA Rule F2, which relates to providing information and documents.

The midfielder denied the allegations in a statement on X, writing: "I am extremely surprised and upset that The FA has decided to charge me.

"For nine months, I have co-operated with every step of their investigation and provided all the information I can.

"I deny the charges in their entirety and will fight with every breath to clear my name. Due to the ongoing process, I will not be providing any further comment."

West Ham pledged to stand by their player.

"The club acknowledges receipt of the FA charge received by Lucas Paqueta for alleged breaches of their rules," a spokesperson said.

"Lucas categorically denies the breach and will continue to robustly defend his position.

"The club will continue to stand by and support the player throughout the process and will make no further comment until the matter is concluded."

Paqueta has until June 3 to provide a response to the charges, subject to any request for an extension to this deadline.

Brazil manager Dorival Junior has called up the 26-year-old for the Copa America this summer. Last summer, Manchester City's £80m move to sign Paqueta from West Ham was called off amid the FA betting investigation.

An £80m deal had been agreed in principle before West Ham were informed on Wednesday that the Brazil international was the subject of an FA investigation into alleged betting breaches.

The investigation started when a larger-than-usual number of bets were placed in Brazil on Paqueta receiving a yellow card in West Ham's home game against Aston Villa on March 12.

Paqueta was shown a yellow card by referee Chris Kavanagh in the 70th minute for a challenge on John McGinn.

In the game against Leeds, Paqueta was booked in the 65th minute by referee Peter Bankes for a late tackle on Crysensio Summerville.

On the opening day of this season, Paqueta received a yellow card after 93 minutes from Bankes for pushing an opponent.

The bets were placed from accounts registered in Paqueta, an island off Rio de Janeiro, but the bets were not placed by Paqueta and he denies any wrongdoing.

The bets were reported to the International Betting Integrity Association who alerted FIFA and the FA.

Paqueta, who has three years left on his West Ham contract, was booked nine times for club and country last season. This campaign, he was shown 15 yellow cards in 45 games for West Ham and Brazil.

How serious could this be for Paqueta?

Sky News sports correspondent Rob Harris:

"This is about as serious as it comes for alleged corruption. This is not about the final outcome of matches but alleged manipulation of particular moments, and Paqueta allegedly intentionally getting himself booked four times.

"He is 26 and it could be a multi-year ban. There have been very few precedents. The FA guidelines do talk about six months to life per charge.

"One incident did happen with a case that concluded in 2018 involving a player, Bradley Wood, playing for Lincoln He was alleged to have been booked intentionally in two separate FA Cup matches. That provides one potential indication around the sanctioning available to the FA.

"We have had cases involving betting with Sandro Tonali at Newcastle and Ivan Toney at Brentford in terms of them betting on the outcome of matches, but this allegedly manipulating moments in matches, it's all about how much you can trust what you are eventually seeing.

Often these cases come to light because suspicious betting patterns are flagged up to the betting companies by particular firms and they feed their way into the FA, which leads to the cases being pursued.

"We have been hearing about this for some time so that shows how hard it is to bring a potential charge. We've had that now and Paqueta has until June 3 to respond to these various charges and then we'll have to see how this case unfolds."

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