Briton Arrested In World Cup Touting Probe

A British director of a World Cup hospitality firm has been arrested as part of an investigation into illegal ticket sales.

Ray Whelan, who works for Fifa’s exclusive official hospitality partner Match, was detained in Rio de Janeiro, police in the city confirmed.

Mr Whelan’s arrest comes days after 11 people were arrested in Rio, suspected of being part of a multimillion-pound ticket touting operation.

The arrests are part of Operation Jules Rimet, a probe by Brazilian police which has involved detectives tapping phones.

Authorities had been working on the theory that a senior official with links to Fifa was behind the scam, said Sky News Sports Correspondent Paul Kelso.

Mr Whelan was arrested at the luxury Copacabana Palace Hotel, a hotel also being used by senior Fifa officials, including its president, Sepp Blatter.

Kelso said: “It’s embarrassing for Fifa. They don’t want police crawling all over their hotel in the middle of Rio a few days before the final.

“Now they have more questions to answer about how tickets have apparently ended up on the black market.

“According to local reports, he (Mr Whelan) was seized with up to 100 tickets in his possession.”

Pedro Dantas, a spokesman for the Rio de Janeiro State Security Secretariat, said Mr Whelan would spend the night at a police station and would “answer to the charges of alleged crime committed on Brazilian soil”.

Reselling tickets for more than their face value is illegal in Brazil.

According to Fifa’s website, the Match hospitality programme “offers clients premium tickets bundled together with a wide range of services such as facilities at the stadiums (including private suites and lounges and marquee tents), gourmet catering, preferential parking, entertainment and gifts.”

The arrest comes after the son of Fifa vice president Julio Grondona last week found himself facing accusations of selling on tickets at more than face value.

He denied the claims, but said he had given away some tickets to a friend.

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