West Ham United’s Brazilian forward Lucas Paqueta could be slapped with a lifetime ban from football if found guilty of the betting breaches leveled against him by the Football Association (FA). The 26-year-old was charged by the FA in May for allegedly getting booked deliberately during four Premier League matches in the 2022-23 season to influence betting markets.

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According to reports, the FA’s charge sheet contains a recommendation for a lifetime ban if Paqueta is found guilty of the breaches. The incidents in question occurred during games against Aston Villa, Leeds, Leicester, and Bournemouth, with the FA alleging that Paqueta intentionally picked up yellow cards so he or his associates could profit through betting. While Paqueta has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, details of the alleged £100,000 betting operation have now emerged. Reports suggest that one of the bets placed on Paqueta receiving a yellow card was worth as little as £7, highlighting the potential scale of the scam.

 It is alleged that around 60 people placed bets ranging from £7 to £400 on Paqueta being booked in the four matches, leading to combined winnings of £100,000. The FA’s investigation, which began in August 2022 after a tip-off from bookmakers Betway, took nine months to gather evidence and mount the charges.

 The allegations have cast a shadow over Paqueta’s proposed £85 million move to Manchester City, which collapsed last August when news of the FA probe broke. Rumors suggest that the bets in question were traced to Paqueta Island in Guanabara Bay, close to Rio de Janeiro, where the West Ham player grew up.

 Adding to the controversy, reports claim that Paqueta asked not to be included in West Ham’s opening game of the season against Bournemouth, where he received his first contentious yellow card. Allegedly, the forward was keen to avoid any injuries that could jeopardize his potential transfer to City.

 While Paqueta has until June 3 to respond to the charges, his legal team is expected to request an extension to this deadline. The case has drawn comparisons to former Reading defender Kynan Isaac, who received a 10-year ban in 2022 for a similar offense, with additional suspensions for breaching betting rules and failure to cooperate.

 As the investigation unfolds, the football community awaits the outcome with bated breath. If found guilty, Paqueta could face severe consequences, including a potential lifetime ban from the sport, sending a strong message about the FA’s zero-tolerance policy towards match-fixing and betting-related offenses.

 The alleged betting scam not only tarnishes the integrity of the game but also raises concerns about the vulnerabilities of players to potential exploitation. As the authorities grapple with this case, it serves as a reminder of the need for robust measures to safeguard the sport’s integrity and uphold the principles of fair play.