West Ham have been grappling with a serious crisis involving their star midfielder, Lucas Paqueta of Brazil.

The Brazilian faces allegations from the Football Association (FA) regarding breaches of betting regulations. If found guilty, his career could be in jeopardy, with a potential ten-year suspension looming over him.

The FA’s investigation centers on accusations that the 26-year-old intentionally received yellow cards in several matches during 2022 and 2023. These include clashes against Leicester City, Aston Villa, Leeds United, and Bournemouth.

The FA’s statement alleges that the Brazilian international sought to “influence the progress, conduct, or any other aspect of, or occurrence in these matches”. That he purposely wanted a referee card to manipulate the betting market to benefit from the booking.

What did Paqueta say about his Brazil chances?

Paqueta has publicly addressed the situation, maintaining his innocence and expressing his determination to clear his name. “This will be the first and only time I will speak about this matter,” he said. “My lawyers have advised me not to comment on the matter. What I can say is that I continue to do my best, cooperating. My lawyers defend me so that everything is clarified in the end. The decision made me sad but we will do everything to change this decision and cooperate.”

A meeting with the FA was postponed due to the absence of the player’s legal team. Consequently, the resolution of this matter won’t arrive before the close of the transfer window.

Despite the allegations, Paqueta will represent Brazil in the upcoming Copa America. He has until Monday to answer the FA’s charges.

His steadfast denial of the allegations comes amidst West Ham’s unwavering support for him. Even though the scandal has already disrupted his proposed $108 million transfer to Manchester City.

What did the Brazilian FA say?

Following the initial investigation, the midfielder was excluded from three consecutive Brazil squads but made a return against England in March. Brazil’s manager, Dorival Junior, had included him in the squad for Copa America. Thus, the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has decided to maintain his call-up despite the ongoing investigation.

Lucas Paqueta has been under suspicion for a number of yellow cards he has picked up with West Ham
Lucas Paqueta has been under suspicion for a number of yellow cards he has picked up with West Ham

Lucas Paqueta has been under suspicion for a number of yellow cards he has picked up with West Ham

The CBF issued a statement, signed by President Ednaldo Rodrigues, which read: “Given the facts reported by the English Federation, the CBF, supported by the joint opinion from the Legal and Governance and Compliance Directorates and the Integrity Unit, has decided to maintain the player’s call-up.”

The statement further clarified, “Based on the information provided by the FA, it is categorically concluded that the player Lucas Paqueta, despite the behaviour for which he was accused authorising preventive removal (from the squad) … has not been penalised to date by the prosecuting body authorised to sanction him.

“It is right to say that the player is free to perform his professional job until the present moment, the source of his livelihood and that of his family, in a full and unrestricted manner, whether for his club or his country’s national team.”

The ex-Milan ace has 44 international caps and participated in the 2022 World Cup and Copa America tournaments in 2019 and 2021. As a result, he remains a pivotal figure for Brazil. As the legal proceedings unfold, his future on the pitch hangs in the balance, casting a shadow over his career and West Ham’s upcoming season.

Photo credits: IMAGO / NurPhoto : IMAGO / Sven Simon