West Ham midfielder Lucas Paqueta is the subject of an FA enquiry into suspicious betting activities, which relate to bets placed on the midfielder to receive a yellow card in various Premier League matches.
The investigation is thought to have begun after Paqueta was booked late on in West Ham’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa last season, with reports in The Mail suggesting bookings in May’s win over Leeds and this month’s campaign opener against Bournemouth are also now part of the enquiry.
Paqueta denies any wrongdoing and is said to have been shocked by the allegations, while there are no suggestions that the player himself placed any of the bets. Both the FA and West Ham have refused to comment publicly.
Standard Sport explains the situation…
How did the investigation come about?
The authorities were alerted to suspicious betting patterns after a number of significant bets were placed on Paqueta to be booked in the Villa game within his homeland of Brazil.
The bets are said to have been placed using new accounts registered to addresses close to the midfielder’s hometown of Paqueta Island, near Rio de Janeiro.
Some of those wagers were placed with West Ham’s shirt sponsor Betway. The platform is not commonly used in Brazil and it was the bookmaker who first raised suspicions.
What happens next for Paqueta?
The playmaker has not currently been charged with any offence and there is no reason why David Moyes cannot continue to pick one of his most important players.
Paqueta played and scored in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Chelsea and is expected to start again when the Hammers go to Brighton this weekend.
However, he has been left out of the Brazilian national side for the upcoming international break and a potential move to Manchester City fell through after the Premier League champions were made aware of the FA’s investigation.
A meeting with the FA scheduled for this week has been delayed due to Paqueta’s legal team being away on holiday and the issue is not expected to be resolved before the transfer window closes.
What are the punishments for betting breaches?
First, it is important to note that Paqueta could be cleared of any wrongdoing. Former Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka was the subject of a similar investigation after picking up a yellow card against Leeds in December 2021 but was cleared earlier this year.
England internationals Ivan Toney, Kieran Trippier and Daniel Sturridge have all been found guilty of betting offences in high-profile cases in recent years but none bear similarity to the Paqueta case.
Toney was found guilty of placing a number of bets himself (footballers are not allowed to bet on football), while both Trippier and Sturridge’s offences related to passing insider information to associates around potential transfers.
There is no precedent for a Premier League player being found guilty of deliberately picking up yellow cards as part of a betting scam.
However, in 2018 Lincoln City defender Bradley Wood was hit with a six-year ban over match-fixing offences after a number of friends placed bets on him to receive bookings in the previous season’s FA Cup run.