An investigation conducted by the Football Association (FA) into Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paqueta has brought to light a series of suspicious bets placed on him being booked in matches.
The probe, spanning five months, started after wagers predicting Paqueta’s bookings in West Ham United matches set off an integrity alert.
These unusual wagers cast doubt on the legitimacy of his bookings and prompted questions regarding potential match-fixing.
According to the Daily Mail, the investigation started after an integrity alert was triggered by bets for Paqueta to be booked against Bournemouth 11 days ago, which he was in the last minute of the 1-1 draw.
In the closing moments of the game, Paqueta received a booking for an altercation with Illia Zabarnyi and dissent towards referee Peter Bankes.
This incident started the investigation that caused the collapse of his £85 million transfer to Manchester City.
The other matches under scrutiny include bookings against Aston Villa, where he was cautioned for a late challenge on John McGinn, and Leeds United when he fouled Crysencio Summerville.
However, it was the Bournemouth booking that triggered the sudden escalation, raising concerns about the authenticity of the yellow cards.
The bets were reportedly traced back to accounts registered in Paqueta Island, located off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, and linked to known associates of the player.
Several Brazilian bookmakers experienced an unprecedented volume of wagers predicting Paqueta’s booking against Aston Villa.
This prompted anti-corruption officials to broaden their scrutiny to other matches involving the Brazilian international.
Despite the investigation, Paqueta denies any involvement in the suspicious betting activities.
West Ham are standing by the player. Manager David Moyes showed his support by playing Paqueta in their win over Chelsea, where he netted a crucial 90th-minute penalty but also received a booking.
The case sheds light on the ongoing challenge of maintaining football’s integrity in the face of potentially fraudulent activities, calling for thorough investigations to safeguard the authenticity of the beautiful game.
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