The Colorado Rapids have placed winger Max Alves on paid administrative leave on Wednesday in connection with alleged unlawful sports gambling, a source with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.
The Rapids released a statement announcing a player had been removed from team activities but did not identify him: “We are aware of the reports regarding a Colorado Rapids player in connection with unlawful sports gambling. 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.”
MLS also issued a statement with similar wording Wednesday, adding that a current and former player had been involved in unlawful gambling.
Earlier Wednesday, prosecutors from Goias state in Brazil charged 16 people, including seven professional soccer players, with alleged match fixing without naming any of the players. However, five players were suspended by their clubs in Brazil on Wednesday in similar fashion to Alves.
The Brazil Football Confederation (CBF) said in a statement that “there is no possibility” that the nation’s top-flight division would be suspended, arguing that it “is also a victim of those possible criminal acts.”
“I am working with FIFA and other international bodies, besides clubs and Brazilian federations, with the intent of fighting every kind of crime, fraud or wrongdoing in soccer,” CBF chairman Ednaldo Rodrigues said in the statement. “I defend the preemptive suspension [of players] based on concrete suspicions and even the ban from sport in proven cases.”
A report from Brazilian outlet O Globo links Alves to the investigation in Brazil and appears to show that he was paid $12,000 by an organization to receive a yellow card in a match against the LA Galaxy on Sept. 17, 2022, which he did roughly 90 seconds after entering the game as a substitute.
Additionally, texts obtained in the O Globo report in connection to the investigation in Brazil show that Alves put former Houston Dynamo player Zeca in touch with the organization making the payments and that he was supposed to take part in match fixing Oct. 8, 2022 — MLS’ Decision Day.
Brazilian-born Alves joined the Rapids from Flamengo ahead of the 2022 season and made 31 appearances for the club across all competitions.
Alves, who started for the Rapids in Saturday’s 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy, has made 12 appearances for the team so far in 2023.
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle contributed to this story.