sport

English businessman charged

Police in Rio de Janeiro have charged English businessman, Ray Whelan, in connection with the alleged illegal sale of World Cup tickets.

Whelan, who denies the charges, is the director of MATCH Services which provides ticket, hospitality, accommodation and IT services for FIFA, was arrested in Rio on Monday before being released the next day.

In total, 12 people have been charged by police.

MATCH acknowledged Whelan and an Algerian national, Lamine Fofana, discussed cash sales of World Cup final tickets for US$25,000 in telephone calls wiretapped by Rio police.

"The 24 hospitality packages were offered on cash basis, which is highly unusual but permitted under the various terms and conditions," MATCH said in a statement. "It must be noted that Mr Whelan was not aware of the fact that MATCH Hospitality had internally blocked sales to Mr Fofana."

The tickets being offered had originally been requested by a Rio hotel chain which reduced its order by $594,000 in May, MATCH said.

MATCH "surmises" that 83 tickets Whelan had were for personal use by company management and shareholders.

Police suspect Whelan supplied Fofana's group that it says was re-selling World Cup tickets for a profit, which is illegal in Brazil.

FIFA said it was unable comment on any aspect of the case before receiving a police report.

"We have no details of the investigation and no details of the tickets," said FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer.