English director arrested in investigation of illegal World Cup ticket sales

Arrest came as part of Operation Jules Rimet, Brazil police’s investigation into ticket touting

 Ray Whelan, chief executive of a Swiss hospitality and ticketing company Match Hospitality,  is taken away by police for questioning  over VIP ticket scalping at the World Cup

Ray Whelan, chief executive of a Swiss hospitality and ticketing company Match Hospitality, is taken away by police for questioning over VIP ticket scalping at the World Cup

Tue, Jul 8, 2014, 00:38

An English director of Fifa’s hospitality partners Match has been arrested in Brazil as part of an investigation into illegal ticket sales.

Ray Whelan, who used to work as an agent for Bobby Charlton, was arrested at the Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, the hotel reserved for Fifa’s senior executives.

The arrest came as part of Operation Jules Rimet, Brazil police’s investigation into ticket touting which has seen detectives tap phones, make a total of 12 arrests and seize a number of tickets. A spokesman for the Rio de Janeiro State Security Secretariat confirmed Mr Whelan was in custody and would spend the night in a Rio police station.

Match is a division of Byrom plc, a company based at Cheadle in Cheshire. Whelan is not an employee of Fifa’s but has become well-known in recent years in connection with Match’s Fifa contracts.

Earlier, Match Hospitality announced it had blocked sales to four companies after tickets were seized from touts by Brazilian police. The four companies are Atlanta Sportif, whose chief executive was one of those arrested in Rio de Janeiro, Reliance Industries Ltd, Jet Set Sports and Pamodzi.

Jet Set is based in New Jersey, Reliance is one of India’s biggest companies, and Padmodzi is based in Nigeria.

A statement from Match read: “Following . . . the arrest of Lamine Fofana, CEO of Atlanta Sportif, engaging in illegal resales, Match Hospitality has cancelled all hospitality packages purchased by Atlanta Sportif for the remaining matches of the 2014 Fifa World Cup.

“Pending further investigations, Match Hospitality will block the packages of Reliance Industries Ltd, Jet Set Sports and Pamodzi. The customers and agents mentioned above are to co-operate with Match Hospitality by helping the authorities with their enquiries regarding the hospitality packages with their names on them found in Mr Fofana’s possession, failing which, Match Hospitality will cancel their tickets for the semi-final and the final too.”

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