World Cup Ticket Scam Probe Leads to Arrest of CEO of FIFA Partner (Report)
LONDON – Brazilian police have arrested the British CEO of a Switzerland-based FIFA partner company and others as part of a probe into a suspected soccer World Cup ticket scam, the BBC reported.
The CEO of Match Hospitality, the official World Cup corporate hospitality provider, was held at the same hotel in Rio de Janeiro where officials from the world's soccer governing body are staying, it said.
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The probe focuses on accusations that World Cup tickets, including some that were originally allocated to players, were illegally resold to buyers that included tourists. Brazilian police arrested 11 people last week as part of the investigation, seizing 131 tickets, including 70 for corporate hospitality packages, according to the BBC.
The report cited police as saying that the arrests broke up an international gang that may have operated at four World Cups and is believed to have earned as much as $90 million per tournament, the BBC said.
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Reselling World Cup tickets for a profit is illegal in Brazil and is also against FIFA rules. Of the more than 3 million tickets available for the tournament, about 445,500 were allocated to Match Hospitality, according to FIFA. Unsold corporate tickets are supposed to be returned to FIFA so that it can make them available to fans.
The U.K. Foreign Office is offering consular assistance to the British CEO of Match Hospitality, which has so far not commented.
FIFA said in a statement cited by the BBC that it "continues to fully collaborate with the local authorities and will provide any details requested to assist with this ongoing investigation."
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It added: "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."
The BBC said those arrested could face charges of money laundering, criminal association and illegally selling tickets.