MITCHELL JOHNSON: Alleged A-League match-fixers Ulises Davila, Clayton Lewis and Kearyn Baccus’ selfish acts

Mitchell Johnson
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Marcarthur skipper Ulises Davila is at the centre of the match-fixing allegations.
Marcarthur skipper Ulises Davila is at the centre of the match-fixing allegations. Credit: Will Pearce

At a time soccer in Australia should be in the spotlight for all the right reasons in the lead-up to this weekend’s A-League Men grand final and with a host of big overseas clubs coming Down Under, the sport took a massive and unwanted hit with the match fixing story.

It really is hard to fathom this sort of thing happening in this day and age. And it’s even harder to understand why the Macarthur Bulls players would risk their careers over the alleged spot fixing of yellow cards for a reported benefit of just $10,000.

We sometimes like to think of ourselves in Australia is being above the dark underbelly of sport - whether that be match fixing or performance enhancing drugs or any other form of cheating.

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The A-League scandal comes as a reminder that sport in our country is not immune.

And the irony beneath it all is that one of the players, Kearyn Baccus, had featured in a responsible gambling ad which has now been removed by the NSW Government.

As a player, I was never a fan of the omnipresent connection between gambling and professional sport. But in the end as a player out there on the field, you still know you can’t bet or be involved in any kind of match or spot fixing.

You must have the responsibility and discipline to not go down that path, which in my opinion is pretty easy when you consider what is at stake.

It would be ideal if we didn’t see gambling banners plastered all over the grounds but who am I to decide who sporting bodies want as sponsors.

As a player, it’s your job to play the game. Play it fairly, play it passionately and uphold to your team rules and the laws of the game. Don’t bring it into disrepute or damage it.

While we are all fallible as humans and make mistakes, as a professional sportsman or woman you carry a responsibility. This kind of stuff never leaves you if you are caught, it becomes part of your legacy.

With any form of match fixing, you wonder just how it gets to a point where a player would decide to take money to do something so wrong.

There have been cases in some sports where players have had gambling problems themselves and needed the money.

It reminds me of when cricket was rocked by the Mohammad Amir scandal in 2010, where the Pakistan fast bowler took money to deliberately bowl no balls at pre-arranged moments.

Amir was young and came from a poor background and wasn’t being paid much and I think he just wanted to support his family. Which is not to say it’s right, but I can understand his situation to some extent.

If the allegations against the Macarthur players are proved, it also is a really selfish act. All of the players in that team go through this with Ulises Davila, Clayton Lewis and Baccus the three players so far accused and named. It’s not fair on them, the ones who play the game with honour.

And when it involves one of your leaders in the team in captain Davila, the ripple effects are even greater. To look at somebody as a leader and find out they have allegedly led you in a dishonourable way, can have an impact on those younger players who believed in them and looked up to them for guidance and advice.

The responsibility a leader carries is important, and, in this case, the captain is alleged to have taken advantage of his powerful position. I’m sure Macarthur can move past all this in time but it’s a situation no athlete wants to be around.

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