RIO DE JANEIRO: FIFA is still in the dark over which federations and sponsors may have provided tickets discovered by police in Operacao Jules Rimet* against a major and long-established World Cup tickets scam writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
On Tuesday agents of the Rio de Janeiro civil police and Ministry of Public Affairs arrested 11 people at the culmination of a three-month investigation over the illegal re-sale of tickets to those finals.
Police and Ministry sources indicated suspicions that tickets had come from within the delegations of Argentina, Brazil and Spain as well as from some sponsors. Also under suspicion was “an individual within FIFA.”
Neither the world federation nor the Brazilian World Cup hosts had been warned in advance about the raids in both Rio and Sao Paulo during which a quantity of tickets, foreign currency, passports and mobile phones were seized.
Yesterday FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer had indicated a meeting with police had been scheduled for later in the day. However she said today that it had been cancelled “due to a lack of information . . . just a communications problem.”
This left FIFA unable to make any further statements beyond welcoming all action against ticket fraud. Ticket touting is a criminal offence under Brazilian law and more than 110 arrests have already been in Rio alone during the World Cup.
Fischer refused to comment on media reports about individuals arrested and under suspicion.
She said: “We can never draw a conclusion based on rumours. We need to valdiate certain things such as the who, what and where. We are waiting on information from the authorities and then we can take actions accordingly.”
The Brazilian confederation has also said it had not been informed about operational details of the raids and arrests.
Police claimed that the gang had been clearing more than $400,000 per game on tickets sold at up to 10 times their face value.
The alleged leader, who was being detained, has been identified as a French-Algerian 57-year-old named Mohamadou Lamine Fofana. He was said to have a home in Dubai and an office in Switzerland.
His phone calls had been monitored for several months.
Police have been contacting various well-known Brazilian sports agents and old players – including several stars of the 1970 World Cup-winning team – who had either received calls from Fofana or were in his contacts lists.
This did not mean they were under suspicion but that they might be able to provide useful information for the investigation, named after the long-term former president of FIFA.