A-League betting scandal: Macarthur captain Ulises Dávila one of group of players allegedly involved

Sarah Blake and David Johns
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Three A-League players have been charged over a betting corruption scandal. Police speaking, just a moment ago.

Macarthur FC captain Ulises Dávila allegedly paid younger A-League players $10,000 a yellow card in an international match fixing plot run by an organised crime figure in South America.

The A-League was plunged into crisis Friday after the NSW Police organised crime squad arrested three Macarthur FC players over the scheme, including the team captain — a former Chelsea player and Mexican national.

Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald said five search warrants were served across Sydney on Friday morning with police seeking a fourth player who was currently interstate and would be extradited if they did not return voluntarily in coming days.

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Police swooped on Friday morning out of concern some of those involved would attempt to leave the country, he said.

“We will allege that those players intentionally gave out yellow cards in the receipt and for the purpose of a corrupt payment,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“Police have also charged the senior leader of that football criminal group with a further charge of engaging in conduct that corrupted a betting outcome for another game in November 2023.”

All the betting involved in the scheme was offshore and involved hundreds of thousands of dollars, mainly in South America, he said.

No other football clubs were involved.

Macarthur FC leadership expressed shock at the arrests and said “integrity of our game is a foundation pillar”.

“The club is shocked and aware of the arrests of three A-League players by NSW Police as a result of international law enforcement coordination focussed on betting corruption related to alleged yellow card manipulation in games,” the emerging south west Sydney club said in a statement.

The arrests came through a strike force established last December and police made the arrests out of concern the players involved would leave the country.

Mr Fitzgerald said the charges had the potential to ruin the lives and careers of the players involved.

“All sports fans understand that even one penalty can change the way a game flows and also the way the momentum of that game can be carried out,” he said.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 17: Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald, State Crime Commander speaks during a press conference at the NSW Police Headquarters, Parramatta on May 17, 2024 in Sydney, Australia. Three A-League players have been arrested this morning, following an investigation by the Organised Crime Squad into alleged betting corruption under Strike Force Beaconview. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
Assistant Commissioner Michael Fitzgerald speaks during a press conference about three A-League players who have been arrested. Credit: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

“And whilst $10,000 may seem a lot of money to a young sports person, we will advise that it is incredibly insignificant when you consider the damage that being charged with this offence, and convicted, will result in the damage to that young person’s reputation, the damage to their club and their code’s reputation, their livelihood and their future livelihood and the effect by being involved in these criminal acts.

“But, more importantly, it affects the confidence and trust that their supporters have in these young sportspeople, that they will always play to their best of their ability.”

The affected games are understood to have taken place between Friday, November 24 and Saturday, December 9, 2023.

Failed attempts were allegedly made to control the number of yellow cards in games on April 20 and May 4, 2024.

Macarthur played out a 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory on November 24 before beating Sydney FC 2-0 on December 9.

The team beat Sydney 1-0 on April 20 before being thrashed 4-0 by the Sky Blues on May 4.

Macarthur FC has been contacted for comment.

Sports Integrity Australia said it acted on information from a UK agency working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission on their investigation.

Police attached to Strike Force Beaconview, established by the organised crime squad’s gaming unit and assisted by the UK Gambling Commission, conducted three simultaneous raids this morning across Sydney.

A 33-year-old man was arrested at a house in South Coogee and is expected to be charged with two counts of engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event, and two counts of facilitating conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

A 27-year-old man was arrested at a Parramatta house and is expected to be charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

A 32-year-old man was arrested at a West Hoxton address and is expected to be charged with engaging in conduct that corrupts a betting outcome of an event.

Football Australia has released a statement saying it is aware of the allegations and is “fully cooperating” with police.

“Football Australia will provide no further comments at this stage as the investigation is ongoing.”

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