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Volume 24 No. 156

Events and Attractions

Brazilian police "have arrested 11 people on charges of illegally reselling tickets to World Cup matches, and police allege that the source of the tickets is a senior official at FIFA," according to Jordan & Connors of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Rio de Janeiro police officials "didn't name the FIFA official and said they are still working to determine his identity." FIFA said that it is "cooperating with the investigation." Police said that the accused "obtained tickets meant for sponsors, nongovernmental organizations and national teams." The tickets "were then illegally resold for several times their face value." Police estimate that the accused "netted" about $100M from selling the tickets. Those arrested by the Rio police "include Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, an Algerian national who the police say had direct access to FIFA officials with tickets." Rio Police investigator Vincente Barroso said that the department is seeking cooperation from Zurich-based Match Hospitality AG, which "has the rights to sell ticket and hospitality packages for FIFA matches." Rio Police inspector Renato Pereira said, "The people on the front line have been arrested. The next step in the investigation is to identify who inside FIFA or Match is involved" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/5).

A TANGLED WEB: Investigators said that a "gang of up to 30 people" made more than $815,760 a game at the tournament selling tickets that it received from a FIFA office. FIFA President Sepp Blatter said, "I know nothing" (IRISH TIMES, 7/5). The PA reported Argentine FA President & FIFA VP Julio Grondona's son Humberto "has admitted to selling on tickets to a friend contrary to FIFA's regulations." The tickets "are among those seized by Brazilian police." The disclosure that Grondona's son has been involved is a "huge embarrassment to FIFA -- he has a post as a technical adviser to the world governing body." His father has been a FIFA exec committee member since '88 and is "also chairman of FIFA's powerful finance committee" (PA, 7/5).

The Pocono IndyCar 500 at Pocono Raceway yesterday "featured a thin crowd of an estimated 20,000 fans," according to Mike Kuhns of the POCONO RECORD (7/7). In Philadelphia, Bill Fleischman wrote Pocono President & CEO Brandon Igdalsky is "wondering just how committed IndyCar racing fans are" after last year's return to the track for the first time since '89. Expectations were fans who attended last year's race would "return and likely bring more fans." Instead, Igdalsky said ticket sales for yesterday's event were "down quite a bit." Igdalsky: "Fans need to put their money where the mouth is. We don't want IndyCar to go away." Igdalsky said that Pocono officials would decide after the race whether the series "will return next year." Fleischman noted Pocono's contract with IndyCar "is for 3 years, but the track can opt out of the final year." Igdalsky said that he "doesn't believe the problem is that fans are reluctant to travel on Fourth of July weekend." But Fleischman wrote fans who "aren't already in the Poconos might not want to risk encountering traffic delays," and traffic jams after last year's race "might discourage fans from returning for a race on a holiday weekend" (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 7/6). Igdalsky addressed the status of next year's race late last week and said, "As of right now, I can't say yes or no. We can get out (of the contract). If we have to, we'll do it. No sense in losing money, especially a significant amount of money." The AP's Dan Gelston noted Igdalsky "blamed the fans -- not a glut of racing in the mountains -- for the possibility of IndyCar leaving the track." Igdalsky: "The big thing is the fans. The fans begged us to bring it back. Every study and report we did, they all said they'd come. But they're not coming in the numbers we need them to come in. Are these fans really here? In Pennsylvania? In the Andrettis' backyard? Why aren't they coming out? Where are they?" (AP, 7/3).

The Guinness Int'l Champions Cup will head to Heinz Field on July 27 for a match between EPL club Manchester City and Serie A club AC Milan, and Relevent Sports CEO Charlie Stillitano said that organizers have "seen a spike in ticket sales in recent weeks as fans have become hooked on the World Cup," according to Sam Werner of the PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE. Stillitano said, "We're well ahead of where we thought we'd be. We're really pleased. I think we're going to crush through our expectations in Pittsburgh." He estimated that around 30,000 tickets "have been sold for the game, already surpassing" the crowd of 25,137 that saw EPL club Chelsea take on Serie A club AS Roma at Heinz Field in '04. Stillitano: "We have benefited greatly from the U.S. success and the uptick in soccer, and Pittsburgh is no exception." Werner noted the "most remarkable sales boom" has come from Ann Arbor, Mich., where 110,000 tickets "have been sold for a match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Michigan Stadium." Stillitano said that overall, he expects the tournament to "more than double the 300,000 tickets it sold a year ago." There were 12 Int'l Cup games in '13 and 13 this year. While most World Cup players "like to enjoy a vacation before their domestic seasons start in August," Stillitano said that he has "received assurances from teams that the stars would be there." Specifically, any player "knocked out in the group stage of the World Cup -- which includes the Italians and English -- would '100 percent' be in the USA for the ICC" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 7/6).