KEIR RADNEDGE in ZURICH: Byrom, the UK-based outfit caught up in ticketing and hospitality controversy at the World Cup, has been handed a clean bill of commercial and operational health by FIFA.

Uncertainty over ongoing contracts for Russia 2018 held by subsidiary companies Match Services and Match Hospitality were raised during the closing stages of the finals in Brazil in July.

This followed the arrest of long-serving Match consultant Ray Whelan and 11 other men by agents from the Rio de Janeiro Public Affairs Ministry and police over allegations of ticket touting.

Byrom, a UK-based company owned by Mexican brothers Enrique and Jaime Byrom, has long been FIFA’s partner of choice in terms of World Cup accommodation.

Match Services, the ticketing specialist, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Byrom which is a majority shareholder in Match Hospitality that holds eponymous rights for the World Cup.

The company claimed that Rio prosecutors had confused the roles of the companies and their own mutual business connections.

Whelan, once agent for Sir Bobby Charlton, surrendered his passport to secure bail in Brazil as did the others implicated in the so-called Operacao Jules Rimet police action.

Vote of confidence

If proceedings do not begin soon the Brazilian authorities will come under increasing pressure to drop all charges and clear the World Cup slate before preparing for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games pressures.

A vote of confidence in Byrom and the Match companies was expressed in Zurich by Jerome Valcke, FIFA’s secretary-general who was the world federation’s World Cup ‘commander.’

Valcke said: “The work delivered by Match with running our ticketing operation has been remarkable. When you work with someone who has done that, as long as there is no case or judgment, then there are no reasons for us not to work with the company which has done a very good job.

“There is no reason not to extend the agreement based on commercial and financial aspects as confirmed by the finance committee and the executive committee.

“From my side I would have no problem extending the contracts on the basis of the work they have done.”

Minority shareholders in Match Hospitality include the Japanese marketing giant Dentsu as well as Infront, the media rights company of which Philippe Blatter, nephew of FIFA president Sepp Blatter, is ceo.

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