Ticket scandal hits FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, July 4: Ahead of the quarter-finals today, an illegal ticketing scandal has hit FIFA World Cup 2014 here in Brazil with the possibility of a FIFA official's involvement.

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Brazil police have arrested 11 people and are probing an international gang said to have illegaly sold World Cup tickets since 2002.

File photo: World Cup ticket for Brazil-Cameroon match

The gang is reported to have earned $95 million per tournament through this. And the tickets are believed to have originated from a FIFA official, according to reports.

The tickets seized were meant for sponsors while the others had been allocated to Brazil team officials, "BBC" reported today.

Police have launched "Operation Jules Rimet" (named after former French FIFA President Jules Rimet) which is being assisted by FIFA to look into the scandal and are trying to identify the source of the tickets.

"As many as 1000 tickets for each of the World Cup's 64 matches may be involved in the scam, which is believe to have encompassed three previous editions dating back to the 2002 finals," "AFP" reported.

The touting gang could have pocketed up to $US95 million ($101 million) per tournament, according to Brazil's O Dia daily.

Police said Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, from Algeria is suspected to be the leader of the gang and "had free access to restricted Fifa areas".

However, FIFA clarified: "FIFA wants to confirm that Mohamadou Lamine Fofana was never accredited for the FIFA World Cup nor had any access to any official car pool of the FIFA World Cup."

"But after his arrest we realised there was someone above him from FIFA with an intermediary at Match Hospitality. We want to identify the last link in the chain, from the ticket touts at the stadiums, right through to those who are above Lamine Fofona and who passed the tickets on to him," Police Commissioner Fabio Barucke was quoted as saying in the media.

According to Barucke, an unnamed foreign national was staying at the luxury Copacabana Palace Hotel (an official FIFA Hotel during World Cup).

The individual is thought to have channeled the tickets to the black market with an intermediary in Match Hospitality, the official ticket agency, he said.

Thierry Weil, FIFA's Marketing Director and responsible for Ticketing at FIFA, said in statement: "With regard to "Operation Jules Rimet", FIFA is fully supporting the local authorities in their investigations into ticket scalping and any illegal sale of FIFA World Cup tickets. FIFA's ticketing experts will tomorrow (Friday, 4 July 2014) analyse the seized tickets in order to validate them as well as to assist the authorities in identifying the source of the tickets and track down the channels of those tickets. FIFA and the local authorities will ensure that any violations will be sanctioned accordingly.

"FIFA takes a firm stance against any form of violation of the ticketing regulations and is very pleased with the great collaboration with the security authorities in our joint efforts to clamp down any unauthorized ticket sales."

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