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WC tickets firm slams 'illegal' arrest

Rio de Janeiro - The company handling World Cup hospitality packages accused Brazilian police on Wednesday of illegally arresting one of its executives, who is facing charges of unlawfully selling game tickets.

Match Services, a Zurich-based company and Fifa partner, said Monday's arrest of British director Ray Whelan at Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Palace Hotel had been “arbitrary and illegal.”

Tickets for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil. Picture: AFP. Credit: AFP

Whelan, 64, was released the next day but police said he still faces charges of facilitating the distribution of tickets for their illegal sale.

Match Services said in a statement that Whelan would voluntarily relinquish his World Cup accreditation but that he had not committed any wrongdoing.

The company admitted that Whelan had spoken on the phone with French-Algerian suspect Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, who was among 11

people detained last week on suspicion of being part of a ticket scalping ring.

But Match Services said there was “nothing inappropriate or criminal” about the conversations because Whelan was discussing the sale of 24 hospitality packages at the correct price, though he rounded up the figure to $25 000 from $24 750 per package.

Together, the 24 packages were worth $594 000.

The company acknowledged that offering a cash transaction was “highly unusual” but permitted. The exchange never took place in the end, it said.

The company said it felt compelled to respond publicly because it said police had leaked the intercepted phone calls to Brazilian media.

Sapa-AFP

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