FIFA says it will help police in Brazil with investigations into allegations that one of its commercial partners has been involved in a ticket scalping scandal.Brazilian authorities arrested Raymond Whelan, the English chief executive of FIFA partner company MATCH Hospitality, on Monday as part of an inquiry into the illegal sale of tickets for the 2014 World Cup.
“FIFA continues to fully collaborate with the local authorities and will provide any details requested to assist with this ongoing investigation,” football’s world governing body said in a statement.
“FIFA wants to reiterate as mentioned at various occasions its firm stance against any form of violation of the criminal law and the ticketing regulations, and is fully supporting the security authorities in our joint efforts to clamp down on any unauthorized ticket sales.”
Police arrested Whelan at the Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio de Janerio for questioning as part of ‘Operation Jules Rimet’ set up to probe scalping.
Whelan’s Swiss-based company MATCH Hospitality describes itself on its website as “the only company worldwide that is officially authorized by FIFA to offer and guarantee exclusive hospitality packages for every match of the FIFA World Cup.”
The company issued a statement Tuesday in response to Whelan’s arrest saying: “Ray Whelan has been released from police custody and will assist the police with further enquiries.
“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.”
It emerged Tuesday that the Infront Sports and Media company presided over by Philippe Blatter — the nephew of FIFA president Sepp Blatter — also owns shares in MATCH Hospitality.
“Infront is a 5% minority shareholder of MATCH Hospitality,” Infront said in a statement. “Infront’s President and CEO Philippe Blatter does not hold any position with MATCH Hospitality.
Infront is fully supporting MATCH Hospitality in collaborating with the local authorities.”
Whelan is among 11 people arrested on suspicion of illegal ticket selling at the 2014 World Cup.
Authorities believe some of the tickets were sold to international tourists who had arrived in Brazil for the world’s biggest sporting event.
Brazilians have purchased the majority of the 2.5 million tickets on sale for the World Cup despite high prices.
Media reports in Brazil Tuesday said that Whelan had subsequently been released by the police after an application by his lawyers.
Last week, a cloud of controversy distracted from the football fiesta as match fixing claims surrounding Cameroon’s participation in the event emerged.
The Cameroon Football Association confirmed it is investigating allegations made in the German media that seven of its players were involved in match fixing during the group stage of the World Cup finals.
The tournament continues on the pitch when host Brazil faces Germany in the first of the semifinals Tuesday. The Netherlands takes on Argentina Wednesday for a place in Sunday’s final.