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SBD Global/July 9, 2014/International Football

Match Hospitality Defends CEO Ray Whelan Following World Cup Ticket Arrest

FIFA partner firm Match Hospitality "has defended" CEO Ray Whelan "after his arrest by Brazilian police investigating the illegal sale of World Cup tickets," according to the BBC. Match said in a statement it expected Whelan to be "exonerated." Whelan "was arrested in Rio de Janeiro on Monday." He "was released after questioning." His lawyer, Fernando Fernandes, said his arrest was "illegal and absurd." Whelan "remains a suspect in the case.'' His lawyers told local media that they "had voluntarily surrendered his passport" (BBC, 7/8). A statement released by Match read, "Match have complete faith that the facts will establish that he has not violated any laws. Match will continue to fully support all police investigations, which we firmly believe will fully exonerate Ray. In the meantime, Ray Whelan, as well as the rest of the Match personnel, will continue to work on our operational areas of responsibility in order to deliver a successful 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil" (SKY SPORTS, 7/8). In N.Y., Jelmayer & Kiernan reported Whelan was released from jail after paying a "symbolic" bail of around $2,250. A police spokesperson said Whelan left jail around 5am local time and added that a judge had ordered Whelan's release "under principles of habeas corpus." Whelan "was apprehended in front of dozens of journalists at Rio's luxurious oceanfront Copacabana Palace hotel Monday." Rio police said Monday that the evidence against Whelan "included 82 tickets to World Cup games found in his hotel room." Fernandes said all the tickets "were issued in the name of either Mr. Whelan or his family members." Fernandes: "This arrest by the police is a media stunt. There's no proof against Raymond" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/8). FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer said the organization “takes note” of Whelan’s arrest and that it continues to cooperate with the investigation (AFP, 7/8).

INDIA'S RELIANCE INVESTIGATES: The AFP reported India’s largest private company, Reliance Industries, said Tuesday that it "was investigating how costly World Cup tickets it had bought ended up on the Brazilian black market." Match Hospitality said that 59 tickets bearing Reliance’s name "were found." The firm said, “We at Reliance always comply with all rules and regulations and are unaware of any such incident. We are investigating the same.” Reliance "identified the company through which it had bought the tickets as Octagon but said it was unable to divulge further details about them, such as where they were located." Reliance said, “We have appointed them [Octagon] as our agents to buy some hospitality packages. They have been handling the tickets and the packages” (AFP, 7/8).
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