Colorado Rapids midfielder Max Alves has been suspended after being linked to an investigation in Brazil probing a match-fixing scandal that reportedly grew to include MLS games, the team announced Wednesday.
“We are aware of the reports regarding a Colorado Rapids player in connection with unlawful sports gambling,” the team announced in a press release.
“We take matters of this nature seriously and seek at all times to protect the integrity of the game. The player has been removed from all team activities while MLS conducts an investigation into the matter.”
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The team confirmed to The Denver Post that the player referenced in the statement was Alves, who, according to local media in Brazil, is under investigation for accepting money as part of a scandal that involved several players fixing matches to benefit sports bettors.
According to the report, Alves allegedly received $12,000 by performing actions to fix bets, including receiving a yellow card in a game against the L.A. Galaxy in September. Text messages obtained by local media seemingly confirmed Alves’ involvement.
The probe of the state of Goias initially targeted matches from last season in Brazil’s top flight but has expanded into second-division matches. Prosecutors said some of the athletes were paid between 50,000 and 100,000 Brazilian reals ($10,000 to $20,000) to get booked or give penalties to their rivals.
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Major League Soccer also released a statement confirming a current and former player are being investigated 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.”
Alves has not been charged but 16 others have, including seven players.
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According to ESPN, Alves allegedly referred former Houston Dynamo player Zeca to the organization involved with fixing matches in connection with an MLS game on October 8.
In total, six players, including Alves, have been suspended by their respective clubs. Five have been suspended in Brazil.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.