Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez was suspended without pay for the rest of 2021 on Friday after Major League Soccer was discovered betting on league matches.
“Hernandez as a member of Sporting Kansas City engaged in widespread and illegal sports gambling, including betting on two MLS matches in direct violation of league rules,” MLS said in a release.
MLS said Hernandez disclosed his issue to Sporting Kansas City in July because he was “concerned about his personal safety because of his gambling debts.” From there, the club and league brought the matter to law enforcement.
According to MLS, an independent investigation concluded that Hernandez never bet on his team’s matches, and “found no evidence that Hernandez had confidential or otherwise non-public information relating to those two MLS matches.” The league said it found no evidence that any other players were involved and that no matches were thrown.
Hernandez is eligible to apply for reinstatement in the league until January 1, 2022.
“This summer, I stepped away from football — the sport that means a lot to me — and began treatment for my gambling addiction,” Hernandez said in a statement. “Over the past several months, I have been able to reevaluate, take responsibility for my actions, and take proper care of something that has affected me greatly…
“… I look forward to doing everything I can to get back on the field and will work harder than ever to help Sporting KC achieve their goals. I will have no further comment at this time.” I focus on my commitment to taking all the necessary steps to return to a healthy one.
Colombia’s 23-year-old Hernandez featured in six games (four starts) this season and recorded his first career MLS goal with two assists. He has played 24 games for Sporting KC since 2017, making 13 starts.
Sporting KC are currently battling with the Seattle Sounders for first place in the Western Conference as the regular season drags down its home stretch.