MLS Suspends Sporting Kansas City Midfielder Again for Suspected Gambling Violations

Major League Soccer (MLS) has placed Sporting Kansas City midfielder Felipe Hernandez on administrative leave amid suspicions that he may have violated the league’s gambling policies for a second time. This development comes less than three years after Hernandez was previously suspended at the end of the 2021 season for breaching the league’s gambling integrity rules and standards of conduct.

Previous Suspension in 2021

Hernandez's earlier suspension stemmed from wagering on two MLS matches, which is strictly prohibited by the league. It is important to note that neither of the games involved his team, and there was no evidence that Hernandez used insider knowledge to place his bets or that his actions affected the integrity of either game. The midfielder himself informed the club of his gambling activities in July 2021.

Consequently, he was banned in October 2021, missing the final few matches of the season. During this period, Hernandez disclosed that he had undergone treatment for a gambling addiction and expressed fears for his safety—a factor that underscored the severity of his struggles.

Reinstatement and Conditions

Following his suspension, Hernandez was reinstated in time for the start of the 2022 season in January. His return to the league came with strict conditions; he must continue to abstain from gambling. Both the league and his club committed to providing him with the necessary support and counseling to aid his recovery process. Sporting Kansas City has consistently expressed their commitment to Hernandez's well-being and supported his journey towards recovery.

New Allegations and Current Investigation

The recent allegations have prompted a new investigation into whether Hernandez has again breached the gambling policies. During this period, Hernandez is prohibited from training or playing for his team. Before his administrative leave, Hernandez had started two of the last three matches, indicating his active role in the team's current season.

Gambling in Sports: A Growing Concern

The issue of gambling among professional athletes is not unique to Hernandez or MLS. For instance, Major League Baseball (MLB) issued a lifetime ban to San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for betting on his team's games. Similarly, in April, Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter was banned from the NBA for life due to betting on games. Porter was found to have used and shared confidential information, leading to the arrest of four alleged co-conspirators.

In the world of soccer, recent instances include Brentford striker Ivan Toney, who was banned for eight games in May 2023 over betting allegations. Additionally, Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali received a 10-month ban in October 2023 for gambling on Italian league matches while playing in Italy.

Maintaining Integrity in Sports

These cases underscore the ongoing challenges professional sports leagues face in maintaining integrity. Strict regulations against gambling are designed to prevent conflicts of interest and ensure fairness in the sport. The current investigation into Hernandez's activities will be crucial in determining his future within MLS.

The league and Sporting Kansas City will be closely monitoring the situation. Emphasizing the importance of integrity and fair play remains a priority for all stakeholders involved. Transparent management of these issues is essential to uphold the public's trust in professional sports.


Hernandez's case serves as a stark reminder of the severe consequences athletes face for breaching gambling policies. The outcomes not only impact the individuals involved but also set a precedent and serve as a warning for other athletes. The sports world continues to strive for transparency, fairness, and integrity, and all stakeholders are keenly observing how leagues manage these crucial issues to maintain the sanctity of the sport.