KEIR RADNEDGE in RIO DE JANEIRO: One of the sons of FIFA’s senior vice-president Julio Grondona has ‘outed’ himself for passing on tickets as Rio police and consumer protection agents pressed on with Operacao Jules Rimet.
Humberto Grondona said in an interview on the Argentinian TyC channel that he had been provided with tickets from the Argentinian football federation and had sold them on to friends at face value. He had no idea what happened to them after that.
Earlier this week civil police arrested 11 men after raids in Rio and Sao Paulo and seized World Cup tickets, foreign currency, passports and mobile phones. Among the 11 men arrested was Mamadou Fofana, a 57-year-old French Algerian described as the ring leader of a multi-million tickets scam gang.
Police, who had deliberately kept the world federation in the dark over its three-month investigation, showed FIFA officials two tickets yesterday. These appeared to be bona fide tickets and FIFA specialists were then invited to police offices to undertaken formal validation of all the tickets seized.
Grondona, a member of the Argentina delegation and their youth team coach, was confronted by the media after discovery of a ticket sold illicitly, and at double face value, and which was printed with his name.
He said: “I am a FIFA coaching instructor so I had four tickets for the quarterfinals of the World Cup, two for semi-final and two final.I have a friend in Argentina to whom I sold some tickets and he, in turn, gave them to another friend. Now, what they did with the tickets, I do not know.
“Do you think I would dirty my hands for $220? I have no need to resell a ticket.”
In Rio, FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer said it was impossible for the world federation to make any comment about the provenance of the tickets seized by police until officials had completed full validation exercise.
World Cup tickets contain a chip with full details of the purchaser so that they an be traced back to source if they turn up on the black market. Under the terms of sale the purchaser is responsible for ticket and the person who uses it for access to matches. Resale is only permitted back into the FIFA ticketing system.
Ticket touting – ie reselling tickets at over face value – is a criminal offence in Brazil, hence the pursuit of this scam by the public authorities and police.
Fischer said: “FIFA will today analyse the seized tickets to validate and identify the source . . . FIFA and local organisation committee will also ensure that any violations of regulations will be sanctioned accordingly.”
She denied reports that Fofana had possessed an official accreditation to the World Cup and that he had the use of a FIFA car.