Head Of FIFA's Hospitality Provider Arrested For Involvement In Illegal Ticket Resale Scheme
The Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro State yesterday arrested the head of Zurich-based Match Hospitality, FIFA's official hospitality provider, "accusing him of aiding scalpers who illegally resold World Cup tickets" worth an estimated $100M, according to Kiernan, Jelmayer & Johnson of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The police said that they detained Match Hospitality Dir Raymond Whelan in order to "prevent him from leaving the country." Match Hospitality yesterday in a statement said that it "conducted an internal investigation into scalping and had identified three of its corporate customers through which it said the tickets had appeared to flow." The company said that it "would block the packages of those three companies" -- India-based Reliance Industries, Nigeria-based Pamodzi Sports Marketing and New Jersey-based Jet Set Sports -- but made no mention of Whelan. Whelan's arrest "follows those of 11 other suspects last week by Brazilian police on charges of illegally reselling tickets to World Cup matches," including Atlanta Sportif Management Owner Mohamadou Lamine Fofana. Rio Police investigator Vicente Barroso yesterday said that authorities had "documented some 900 communications" between Whelan and Fofana, who police "suspect of being the ring leader in the alleged ticket-scalping operation." Barroso said that Fofana would call Whelan "when he needed tickets and then pick them up at the Copacabana Palace." Barroso added that Whelan, "whose passport has been confiscated by police, has been living in Rio for around two years" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 7/8). The AP notes Whelan "was released from police custody early Tuesday." Whelan's attorney, Fernando Fernandes, told reporters the arrest was "illegal and absurd." Whelan, whose company paid $120M "for exclusive rights to sell and market more than 400,000 corporate hospitality packages" at the World Cup, "will not be allowed to leave Brazil during the tournament" (AP, 7/8).
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: In N.Y., Christopher Clarey examined Brazil as World Cup host and wrote "response to the Cup has surely benefited from reduced expectations." When people "expect chaos, they are content with far from perfect." But the stadiums have, "for the most part, worked well" and the transport has, "for the most part, run on time." The mood "has been upbeat, and the soccer has often been transcendent, although Friday’s edgy, foul-filled quarterfinals were a big hint that the game was returning to a more traditional pattern under final-stretch pressure." The Brazilians "have proved -- with plenty of pressure from FIFA -- that they can pull enough all-nighters to meet the deadline for a global sporting event." That should be "some, but hardly total, reassurance" to the IOC, which is "not dealing with just one sport in Brazil, but with 28" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/5).