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World Cup 2014 : Reliance orders probe after WC tickets it bought enter black market

AFP  Mumbai, July 08, 2014
First Published: 16:26 IST(8/7/2014) | Last Updated: 17:52 IST(8/7/2014)

Reliance Industries said on Tuesday it was investigating how costly World Cup tickets it had bought ended up on the Brazilian black market.

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Match Hospitality, a FIFA partner firm which sells deluxe packages that include private suites at stadiums and gourmet catering, said 59 tickets bearing Reliance's name were found.

"We at Reliance always comply with all rules and regulations and are unaware of any such incident. We are investigating the same," the firm said in a statement to AFP.

Reliance Industries, controlled by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, stated it had bought the tickets via another company which works with FIFA and their sponsors.

Reliance identified the company through which it had bought the tickets as Octagon but told AFP it was unable to divulge further details about them, such as where they were located.

"We have appointed them (Octagon) as our agents to buy some hospitality packages. They have been handling the tickets and the packages," Reliance said.

Reliance had bought a total of 304 packages for 19 matches worth $1.2 million, including access to a private suite for all games in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Match Hospitality said.

Rio de Janeiro police arrested Ray Whelan, a director with Match Hospitality, on Monday and accused him of leading a network that illegally sold tickets.

Police say the international scalping syndicate sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, going back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

The scandal is the latest to hit FIFA, which is already battling allegations members accepted bribes from a Qatari football official to secure support for the emirate's campaign to secure the 2022 World Cup.

Meanwhile off the pitch an ongoing investigation into illegal ticket sales saw it lap at FIFA's door.
 
Ray Whelan, a director at Match Hospitality, was detained at Rio de Janeiro's luxurious beachfront Copacabana Palace Hotel -- where FIFA president Sepp Blatter and other FIFA notables are staying during the finals -- days after 11 people were rounded up in a raid to dismantle the network.

Fabio Barucke, the case's lead investigator, said Whelan, 64 and who is a former agent of England football legend Bobby Charlton, faces charges of facilitating the distribution of tickets for their illegal sale and criminal conspiracy. If found guilty, he could face four years in prison.

Police say the international scalping syndicate sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, going back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

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.

One of Match Hospitality's shareholders is Swiss-based Infront Sports and Media, headed by Philippe Blatter, the nephew of Sepp Blatter.


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