RIO DE JANEIRO, (Reuters) – Ray Whelan, the chief executive of a hospitality firm arrested in connection with an investigation into VIP ticket scalping at the World Cup, was released yesterday after spending the night in custody.
His company, MATCH, said the Englishman was released from custody in Rio de Janeiro and that he will assist police with further enquiries.
“MATCH have complete faith that the facts will establish that he has not violated any laws,” it said in a statement, adding that Whelan would continue with his work at the World Cup. “MATCH will continue to fully support all police investigations, which we firmly believe will fully exonerate Ray. Whelan was arrested at Rio’s beachfront Copacabana Palace hotel as a result of Operation Jules Rimet which has seen 12 people arrested into investigations over the illegal resale of tickets for the tournament.
The investigation has further sullied the reputation of world soccer’s governing body FIFA, which already faces allegations of bribery surrounding Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup.
MATCH is the main provider of hospitality packages for the World Cup and paid $240 million for the exclusive rights to sell corporate hospitality at the 2010 World Cup and this one.
It has a contract with FIFA until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Philippe Blatter, the nephew of FIFA president Sepp Blatter is the president of Infront, a company which has a 5 percent stake in MATCH Hospitality, one of the two arms of MATCH.
According to its website, MATCH is appointed by FIFA to provide ticketing, accommodation and event information technology at the World Cup.