Match Hospitality Defends Arrested CEO As Lawyer Accuses Police Of Media Stunt
FIFA partner 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 in a statement said it expects Whelan will be "exonerated" after he was released following questioning. Whelan's lawyer, Fernando Fernandes, said the arrest was "illegal and absurd" (BBC.com, 7/8). Match in its statement added the company has "complete faith that the facts will establish that he has not violated any laws" (SKYSPORTS.com, 7/8). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Kiernan & Jelmayer noted Whelan was released after he posted bail of about $2,250 and "delivered his passport to ensure he wouldn't leave Brazil." FIFA "works closely with Match, its official hospitality provider, which has a contract to provide hotel and game packages" until '23, through the next two World Cups. Match is 5% owned by Infront Sports & Media AG, and company President & CEO Philippe Blatter is the nephew of FIFA President Sepp Blatter. Neither man "has been implicated in the ticket-scalping probe," but the ticket scandal "is the latest in a string of controversies dogging FIFA." But Fernandes said, "This arrest by the police is a media stunt. There's no proof against Raymond. ... All the tickets that were with Raymond, that the police apprehended, were in his name and his relatives' names." Kiernan & Jelmayer noted it was not clear whether the tickets "were for past or future games." At the time of Whelan's arrest, four games "remained to be played in the World Cup" (WSJ.com, 7/8).