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Rediff.com  » Sports » World Cup chit-chat: Reliance to probe black marketing of its World Cup match tickets

World Cup chit-chat: Reliance to probe black marketing of its World Cup match tickets

Last updated on: July 08, 2014 19:23 IST

World Cup chit-chat: Reliance to probe black marketing of its World Cup match tickets

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With the World Cup football tickets it had originally bought being caught in the hands of alleged scalpers, Reliance Industries on Tuesday said it is investigating how the much-coveted and expensive tickets ended up in the Brazilian black market.

Match Hospitality AG, a company appointed by FIFA to sell hospitality packages that include private suites at stadiums and gourmet catering, said 59 tickets bearing RIL's name were found with the scalpers who resell tickets, usually for a hefty profit.

"We at Reliance always comply with all rules and regulations and are unaware of any such incident. We are investigating the same," the company spokesperson said.

RIL, controlled by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, said it had bought the tickets through another company.

"Octagon works with FIFA and their sponsors. We have appointed them as our agents to buy some hospitality packages. They have been handling the tickets and the packages," the spokesperson said.

RIL had bought a total of 304 packages for 19 matches worth $1.2 million, including access to a private suite for all games in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Match Hospitality said.

As part of the purchase agreement, Match said, RIL had agreed to "a strict prohibition to resale" any of the packages.

Rio state police on Monday said they had arrested the head of Match Hospitality, Raymond Whelan, accusing him of aiding scalpers who illegally resold World Cup tickets worth an estimated $100 million.

The Swiss agency, Match Hospitality said it blocked semi-final and final packages bought by RIL and two other companies.

In the statement, it said tickets acquired by RIL, Jet Set Sports and Pamodzi Sports were suspended "pending further investigations" after entries containing their names were seized by police.

It didn't specify how many of the tickets were for the semi-finals and final.

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Image: Tourists pose with a Brazilian soccer fan (C, obscured) holding an image of Neymar, inside her car which has been decorated to celebrate the 2014 World Cup, in Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Photographs: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters

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FIFA not to act against Zuniga for Neymar tackle

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Colombia defender Juan Camilo Zuniga will not be punished for the tackle on Neymar that left the Brazil striker with a broken bone in his back and forced him out of the rest of the World Cup.

After investigating the incident from Friday's quarter-final, won 2-1 by Brazil, FIFA's Disciplinary Committee ruled on Monday that no retrospective action could be taken.

In a statement, soccer's world governing body said their own rules prevented them reopening the case because the incident had already been dealt with by the referee on the pitch.

"After an analysis of the matter and the extensive submission and documentation received from the CBF (Brazilian Football Confederation), the chairman came to the conclusion that the FIFA Disciplinary Committee cannot consider this matter in light of the conditions outlined in the FIFA Disciplinary Code (FDC) for the Disciplinary Committee to be able to intervene in such a situation," the statement read.

"In particular, in this specific case, no retrospective action can be taken by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee, since the incident involving the Colombian player Juan Camilo Zuniga Mosquera did not escape the match officials..."

Neymar's premature exit from the World Cup has provoked a mixture of shock and anger in the samba nation.

Brazilian television stations interrupted their normal programming on the weekend to broadcast live shots of Neymar leaving the team's training base on a helicopter while Brazil President Dilma Rousseff sent the injured player a letter.

The initial shock over Neymar's injury quickly turned to fury as the collision with Zuniga was further scrutinised.

Neymar was carried off the field in tears, and later diagnosed with a fractured vertebra, when Zuniga came rushing in from behind and kneed the Brazilian striker in the back.

Zuniga was not booked over the incident and sent a personal note to Neymar explaining that it was an accident but not everyone agreed with his version of events with former Brazil striker Ronaldo calling it an "evil" tackle.

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Image: Neymar of Brazil is challenged by Juan Camilo Zuniga of Colombia during their 2014 FIFA World Cup quarter-final at Castelao in Fortaleza on July 4, 2014
Photographs: Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

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Official arrested over illegal sales

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Brazilian police arrested a director from the FIFA partner company handling World Cup ticket packages, accusing him of leading a network that illegally sold game passes.

Ray Whelan, a director at Match Hospitality, was detained at Rio de Janeiro's luxurious beachfront Copacabana Palace Hotel on Monday, days after 11 people were rounded up in a raid to dismantle the network.

Fabio Barucke, the case's lead investigator, said Whelan faces charges of facilitating the distribution of tickets for their illegal sale and criminal conspiracy. If found guilty, he could face four years in prison.

Local media said Whelan is a 64-year-old British citizen. Some 100 tickets were found in his hotel room.

Police say the international scalping syndicate sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, going back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

The scandal is the latest to hit FIFA, which is already battling allegations that members accepted bribes from a Qatari football official to secure support for the emirate's campaign to get the 2022 World Cup finals.

One of Match Hospitality's shareholders is Swiss-based Infront Sports and Media, headed by Philippe Blatter, the nephew of FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

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Image: Ray Whelan, left, of Switzerland-based Match Services, arrives at a police station after being arrested in Rio de Janeiro
Photographs: Reuters

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Ganguly predicts a Germany-Netherlands final

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Former India cricket captain Sourav Ganguly, who is set to fly off to England for commentary assignments, has predicted a Germany-Netherlands final in the summit clash of FIFA World Cup on July 13.

"Obviously as a football fan I would love to see a Brazil-Argentina final, but going by form it looks likely to be a Germany versus The Netherlands final," said the ‘Prince of Kolkata’.

An England-bound Ganguly will miss celebrating his birthday with family at home when he turns 42 on Tuesday but Bengal's favourite son promises to be updated on all the football action.

"That's the way it is, can't help," Ganguly said before leaving for Delhi to catch a late night flight to London.


Image: Sourav Ganguly
Photographs: Getty Images

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