World Cup tickets official arrested over illegal sales

Tuesday 08 July 2014 00.02
World cup tickets have been in high demand in Brazil
World cup tickets have been in high demand in Brazil

Brazilian police have arrested a director from the FIFA partner company in charge of World Cup ticket packages, accusing him of leading a network that illegally sold game passes.

Police said that English man Ray Whelan, director at the hospitality firm Match, was detained in Rio de Janeiro.

It comes days after 11 people were rounded up in a raid to dismantle the network.

Police say the international scalping syndicate sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, going back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

A French-Algerian suspect, Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, was initially thought to be responsible for the scam after he was among 11 people arrested last week in Rio and Sao Paulo.

But suspicions moved toward an individual at Match Hospitality, the official World Cup ticket agency, which sells deluxe packages that include private suites at stadiums and gourmet catering.

Authorities intercepted phone calls between Mr Fofana and Mr Whelan, according to the newspaper O Estado de Sao Paulo.

One of Match's shareholders is Swiss-based Infront Sports and Media, headed by Philippe Blatter, the nephew of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

Match Hospitality said earlier that it had canceled the tickets bought by Mr Fofana's company, Atlanta Sportif, for the semi-finals and the final.

The hospitality firm warned that it would cancel the remaining tickets of three other companies whose names appeared in tickets seized by police unless they cooperate with the probe.

The companies were identified as Reliance Industries Limited, Jet Set Sports and Pamodzi Sports, but Match did not give more details about them.

Keywords: tickets, world cup