Football’s powerful governing body came under renewed scrutiny after a Brazilian police chief said a FIFA member provided thousands of World Cup tickets sold illegally at games for millions of dollars.
Police commissioner Fabio Barucke said “someone from FIFA” and “an intermediary from Match Hospitality”, FIFA’s ticket agency, had channelled the tickets onto the black market.
The FIFA figure, whom police are trying to identify, is believed to be staying at the Copacabana Palace, a luxury Rio de Janeiro hotel used by some FIFA hierarchy at the World Cup, Barucke told reporters.
The scandal is the latest to hit FIFA, which is already battling allegations that members accepted bribes from a Qatari football official to secure support for the emirate’s campaign to get the 2022 World Cup finals.
Brazilian police on Tuesday arrested 11 people accused of selling tickets that may have been obtained through a contact at football’s governing body.
The tickets are normally reserved for sponsors, football federations, players and non-government organisations.
A police investigation dubbed “Operation Jules Rimet” after the former French FIFA president was launched without FIFA’s knowledge, the police chief said.
Following the arrests, “we are now calling for FIFA’s assistance to help us identify this FIFA person, a foreigner staying in the Copacabana Palace hotel,” Barucke said.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, under fierce pressure over the Qatar claims and other alleged corruption at his organisation, said he was unaware of the case, according to Estadao newspaper’s website.
“I don’t handle tickets. I handle politics,” Blatter was quoted as saying.
FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said the organisation “is fully supporting the local authorities in their investigations into ticket scalping and any illegal sale of FIFA World Cup tickets.”
He added: “FIFA and the local authorities will ensure that any violations will be sanctioned accordingly.”
50,000 phone conversations
“But after his arrest we realised there was someone above him from FIFA with an intermediary at Match Hospitality,” he
“We want to identify the last link in the chain, from the ticket touts at the stadiums, right through to those who are above Lamine Fofana and who passed the tickets on to him,” said Barucke.
He added: “We have indications that at least one person from FIFA passed on tickets” to Match Hospitality.
Brazilian authorities said Wednesday they suspected members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations were involved in continued…