Black market ticket scandal hits World Cup
Investigators say leader of 30-man gang that made up to €600k per game was member of Fifa
Former Brazil captain Dunga has denied any involvement with businessman Lamine Fofana, who has been arrested by police in Brazil in connection with black market ticket sales at the World Cup. Photograph: Pilar Olivares/Reuters
Several former Brazilian footballers and the father of the team’s current star Neymar will be interviewed by local police investigating a gang that made millions of euros selling black market tickets at the World Cup.
Dunga, who captained Brazil to a fourth world title in 1994, and Jairzinho, the top scorer in the victorious 1970 side, will be questioned as “witnesses” in the case, as will Neymar Sr – though none have been accused of wrongdoing.
The case broke on Tuesday with the arrest of Lamine Fofana, a 57-year-old Franco-Algerian businessman as part of ‘Operation Jules Rimet’ carried out by police in Rio de Janeiro.
According to investigators a gang of up to 30 people made over €600,000 a game at the tournament selling tickets that it received from a Fifa office in the luxurious Copacabana Palace hotel. The tickets came in boxes and envelopes from the company Match, which handles Fifa’s corporate hospitality.
One of Fofana’s associates was arrested in São Paulo and according to police there the true leader of the gang was a member of Fifa and authorities say that Fofana travelled around Rio in an official Fifa car and is heard on phone taps talking to Fifa authorities. “For now, what we can say is that someone in Fifa facilitated the gang,” said police investigator Fábio Barucke.
Asked by Brazilian reporters about the case Fifa president Sepp Blatter responded: “I know nothing”. One of the partners in Match is his nephew Phillip Blatter. In a later statement Fifa denied Fofana had Fifa accreditation at the tournament or access to a Fifa car. The organisation’s marketing director Thierry Weil said it would analyse the tickets seized by Brazilian police to “confirm their authenticity and help the authorities identify their source”.
Police investigator Barucke told the Estado de S.Paulo newspaper that at the start of the three month investigation into the gang’s activities it intercepted a phone call to Fofana offering him 50 tickets for Brazil’s group game with Cameroon in Brasília at €1,000 each. “I’m a friend of that player who is a common friend of ours,” said the still unidentified caller.
Denying any involvement with Fofana, Dunga told local reporters: “He is a football businessman who brought me to play in Chechnya. I cannot say any more because at the moment I know no more.”
Although not related to Operation Jules Rimet, the son of the second most powerful man in world football has become embroiled in the scandal.
Humberto Grondona, son of Argentina’s senior Fifa vice-president Julio Grondona, has admitted to selling on tickets to a friend contrary to Fifa’s regulations.