RIO DE JANEIRO: On Monday, Brazilian police arrested a director from the FIFA partner company handling World Cup ticket packages, charging him of running a network that illegally sold game passes.
A director Ray Whelan in Match Hospitality, was stayed in Rio de Janeiro’s luxurious beachfront Copacabana Palace Hotel, days after 11 people were rounded up in a raid to take down the network.
Local media stated, Whelan is a 64-year-old British citizen. Some 100 tickets were found in his hotel room.
The arrest was made on the evening of the tournament’s first semi-final game between Brazil and Germany in Belo Horizonte. On Wednesday, Argentina and the Netherlands will face off for the final’s last spot in Sao Paulo.
Police say the international scalping syndicate sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, extending back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
The scandal is the latest to hit FIFA, which is already battling allegations that members accepted bribes from a Qatari football official to ensure backing for the emirate’s campaign to bring the 2022 World Cup finals.
Mohamadou Lamine Fofana a French-Algerian suspect, was initially believed to be responsible for the ticket scheme after he was among 11 people arrested last week in Rio and Sao Paulo.
Whelan denied negotiating tickets with the Franco-Algerian Mohammad Lamine Fofana during the World Cup, but we have proof. We have 900 (intercepted) calls between the two during the tournament,” Baracktold reporters.
Police spaeak Whelan gave VIP tickets to Fofana that were originally for sponsors, non-governmental organizations and relatives of participants.
FIFA representative Delia Fischer said the governing body “takes note” of Whelan’s arrest and that it goes forward to cooperate with the probe.
The hospitality firm warned that it would delete the remaining tickets of three other companies whose names appeared in tickets seized by the police unless they join forces with the probe.
Reliance Industries bought 304 parcels for 19 matches worth $1.2 million, adding admission to a private suite for all games in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte.
Byrom PLC, a Manchester, England, company, has a 75 percent stake in Match Hospitality. It also owns Match Services. Both Match firms are based in Zurich and provide World Cup ticketing and hospitality services.