FIFA Scalping Suspect Whelan On The Run As Fugitive After Sneaking Out Of Hotel
Zurich-based Match Hospitality AG Dir RAYMOND WHELAN, whose company is FIFA's official hospitality provider for the World Cup, has "been declared a fugitive by Brazilian police investigating a ticket scalping scheme," according to Brooks & Brito of the AP. Rio de Janeiro Police Commissioner FABIO BARUCKE said that Whelan yesterday "left the lavish Copacabana Palace through a service entry ... about an hour before police arrived to re-arrest him." Barucke: "He's now considered a fugitive. We have security camera images of him exiting the hotel through a service door." He added that police "have 50,000 tapped phone calls made between suspected scalpers in Rio alone, beginning about four weeks before the World Cup began on June 12." That figure "included an estimated 900 calls" between Whelan and Atlanta Sportif Management Owner MOHAMADOU LAMINE FOFANA "since the tournament kicked off." Barucke: "Raymond knew that Fofana was a scalper, he knew that he was going to resell those tickets on the black market." He added that he will "soon receive several weeks' worth of security camera tapes from inside the Copacabana Palace, which he said investigators already know was 'a bazaar of tickets, it was a market for scalping.'" Barucke added that he is "confident his investigation will reveal that FIFA officials and authorities from Brazil's national football confederation also funneled tickets to known scalpers, in return for a share of the illegal profits" (AP, 7/10).
TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN: The GLOBE & MAIL's Nolen & Andreoni write Whelan fleeing police is the "latest twist in a scandal playing out in the last days of Brazil’s World Cup." Whelan is based in Brazil, where he "handled 'hospitality packages' and hotel accreditation for FIFA" through Match. Security footage from the Copacabana Palace hotel showed Whelan and his lawyer "departing from the service door" 15 minutes before police arrived to arrest him -- "leading police to speculate that someone called from the court with news of the warrant, not uncommon in a judiciary plagued by corruption" (GLOBE & MAIL, 7/11).
GMR IN COMPLIANCE: GMR Marketing, which is the official hospitality sales agency in the U.S. for Match, underwent a full review of its business operations and was determined to be in compliance with Match and FIFA regulations. GMR Head of Global Sports & Entertainment JAN KATZOFF said that the review took place over the last few weeks as news broke that Brazilian police were investigating the alleged ticket-scalping ring. Katzoff: "We did a complete review and communicated to our subagents (for hospitality packages sold in the U.S.) that they had to be compliant as well.” GMR’s hospitality sales in Brazil have been strong, triple what it sold in South Africa in '10. Katzoff said that the agency, which is in the final year of its current Match contract, will evaluate its sales results in the coming months and follow the ongoing investigation of Match in Brazil before making a decision about renewing its agreement. Katzoff said, “Assuming the debrief (on Brazil sales) is successful and we understand the nature of what transpired in this investigation and it’s resolved to our satisfaction, our goal would be to reach an agreement (with Match for the '18 World Cup) by early 2015, but we have a lot of things to work through first” (Tripp Mickle, Staff Writer).