The Colorado Rapids have suspended winger Max Alves while Major League Soccer investigates allegations of illegal sports betting involving the Brazilian.
Alves is accused of being paid $12,000 for collecting a yellow card in a game against the L.A. Galaxy. He received a yellow card on Sept. 17, 2022, just 90 seconds after substituting into the game in the second half.
Brazilian newspaper O Globo is reporting that Alves is also part of an investigation by the Brazilian Public Ministry of Goias. It has already charged 16 people for match-fixing to benefit sports bettors. Seven of those charged are professi0onal soccer players. Officials have not charged Alves so far.
Colorado Rapids say player ‘removed from all team activities’
Colorado online sports betting is booming. The state ranks near the top in per capita betting and boasts several successful professional and college teams to keep Colorado fans engaged for years to come.
The Colorado Rapids released a short statement but declined to name Alves as the suspended player.
“We are aware of the reports regarding a Colorado Rapids player in connection with unlawful sports gambling. The player has been removed from all team activities while MLS conducts an investigation into the matter.”
Soon after, MLS confirmed that it is investigating the matter.
“Major League Soccer is aware of the reports regarding alleged involvement by a current player and a former player in connection with unlawful sports gambling. The integrity of the game is critical to the league and MLS takes seriously these allegations and any contravention of the league’s integrity rules. The current player has been removed from team activities pending an investigation into this matter, which will begin promptly.”
The identity of the “former player” has not been made public.
Because the issue involves sports wagering, PlayColorado reached out to the Colorado Department of Revenue., The CDR oversees sports betting in the state.
CDR Media Director Shannon Gray said they are looking into the issue.
“I am aware of this situation. I have reached out to our team to dig a little deeper, but at this point, I do not have anything to share. We are of course monitoring all situations.”
Texts from alleged ringleader point to Alves’ involvement
Brendan Ploen of the Denver Post says the evidence against Alves is overwhelming.
“According to the O Globo report, a spreadsheet from the investigation shows Alves received up to 60,000 Brazilian reais, approximately $12,000, as part of the scheme. The payment was tied to him receiving a yellow card in a match at the L.A. Galaxy on Sept. 17, 2022, according to WhatsApp text messages seized by authorities and obtained by O Globo. Roughly 90 seconds after he stepped onto the field as a second-half substitute in that match, Alves was shown a yellow card. In the same story, screenshots of the texts from a different conversation between fixers show that Alves appears to be ‘confirmed’ that he is in agreement with alleged ringleader Bruno Lopez two days before the game against the Galaxy. In one text, Lopez messaged, ‘I just closed with Alves, from MLS, he’s been alternating as a starter and bench. He plays every game, every game. Guaranteed 200% that he comes in and already takes.’”
To make matters worse for Alves, texts obtained by O Globo seem to show Alves attempting to refer Houston Dynamo player and fellow Brazilian Zeca to the group of match fixers.
NFL has punished players over wrongful sports betting
In an effort to protect the integrity of their organizations, professional sports leagues are cracking down on players who blur the line between competing and sports wagering.
The National Football League in particular has had its fair share of issues.
Recently, five players were found to be in violation of the NFL’s gambling policy. Three of the players supposedly bet on NFL games and were suspended for at least a year. The other two placed bets from NFL facilities but not on NFL games and were suspended six games.
The NFL suspended standout wide receiver Calvin Ridley the entire 2022 season for allegedly betting on NFL games. Cornerback Josh Shaw sat out the 2020 season for the same violation.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote how important it is for a league to protect its image.
“There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success – and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league – than upholding the integrity of the game. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermine the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL.”