MLS Player Felipe Hernandez Placed on Administrative Leave for Suspected Gambling Violation

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

In 2021, Hernandez wagered on two MLS matches, which is strictly prohibited by the league. However, neither of these games involved his own team, and there was no evidence that Hernandez used insider knowledge to place his wagers or affected the integrity of either game.

Hernandez informed the club of his gambling activities in July 2021. He was subsequently banned in October 2021, causing him to miss the final few matches of the season. Hernandez also disclosed that he had undergone treatment for a gambling addiction and that he feared for his safety, showing the serious personal repercussions of his actions.

Reinstatement and Conditions

Hernandez was reinstated in time for the start of the 2022 season in January, with the stipulation that he must continue to abstain from gambling. Both the league and his club committed to providing him with support and counseling as necessary. Sporting Kansas City expressed a commitment to Hernandez’s well-being and supported his recovery process, indicating a more compassionate approach to his rehabilitation.

New Allegations and Current Investigation

Despite these efforts, new allegations have emerged, prompting an investigation into another possible breach of gambling policies by Hernandez. During this period, he is prohibited from training or playing for his team, which is a significant setback for both the player and the club.

Hernandez had started two of the last three matches before being placed on administrative leave, demonstrating his importance to Sporting Kansas City. The investigation will be critical in determining his future in MLS, as any further violations could lead to more severe consequences.

Gambling in Sports: A Growing Concern

Gambling among professional athletes is not an issue unique to Hernandez or MLS. Major League Baseball (MLB) issued a lifetime ban to San Diego Padres infielder Tucupita Marcano for betting on his team's games. In April, Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter was banned from the NBA for life for betting on games and sharing confidential information, which led to the arrest of four alleged co-conspirators.

Soccer has also faced similar issues. Brentford striker Ivan Toney was banned for eight games in May 2023 over betting allegations, and Newcastle midfielder Sandro Tonali was given a 10-month ban in October 2023 for gambling on Italian league matches while he played in Italy. These cases highlight the widespread challenge of addressing gambling within professional sports.

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 game. The current investigation into Hernandez's actions will be crucial in determining his future in MLS, but it also emphasizes the ongoing need for vigilance and robust enforcement of these policies.

The league and his club will be closely monitoring the situation. Emphasizing the importance of integrity and fair play remains a priority for all involved, and the outcome of this investigation will be closely watched by multiple stakeholders.


The case of Felipe Hernandez serves as a stark reminder of the severe consequences athletes face for breaching gambling policies. These outcomes not only impact the individuals involved but also serve as a precedent and warning for other athletes. The sports world continues to strive for transparency, fairness, and integrity, recognizing that these values are essential for the credibility of any sporting competition.

All stakeholders are keenly observing how leagues manage these crucial issues, understanding that the integrity of the sport is paramount. Sporting Kansas City and MLS must now navigate this sensitive issue carefully, balancing the enforcement of rules with support for an individual who has faced significant personal challenges.