Soccer-Argentina probes whether red card related to sports betting in Cup game

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's justice system said on Thursday it had opened an investigation into whether sports betting played a role in an Agropecuario player being sent off against Boca Juniors in a Copa Argentina game this month.

Milton Leyendeker was red carded eight minutes into the match on Aug. 10 for a challenge on Exequiel Zeballos. Boca won the game 1-0 but Zeballos suffered a serious ankle injury that required surgery.

"The prosecutor (Celsa Ramirez) is investigating if there were bets on whether there would be an Agropecuario player sent off before 10 minutes into the match," the public prosecutor's office of the City of Buenos Aires said on its Twitter account.

Local media first reported that gambling might have been involved.

"We want to see if there is any truth in the media reports," a source from the prosecutor's office told Reuters, adding that these types of bets would be illegal.

Leyendeker said the idea that he deliberately got himself sent off was "totally crazy".

"Am I going to leave my team with one less, playing against Boca, in a game that everyone wants to play?" he was quoted as saying by local media publication Infobae.

"Something like this had never happened to me."

(Reporting by Ramiro Scandolo and Nicolas Misculin; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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