SAO PAULO – Soccer's world governing body said Wednesday it is helping Brazil's investigation of a ticket scalping ring believed to be reselling World Cup tickets.
FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said the organization was "actively assisting" in the investigation and that FIFA representatives will meet with Brazilian officials to discuss its ticketing operations. She also cautioned Brazilian media not to jump to conclusions.
Camila Donato, a press officer of the Rio de Janeiro police department, said Wednesday that police arrested 11 suspected ticket scalpers on Tuesday and seized 100 tickets supplied by FIFA to sponsors, non-governmental organizations and members of the Brazilian squad's technical commission.
Donato said police are investigating the possible involvement of FIFA officials and members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations.
She identified the leader of the ring as Algerian Mohamadou Lamine Fofana. Donato said the other 10 men are Brazilians, adding that all have been charged with money laundering, criminal conspiracy and ticket scalping.
Inspector Fabio Barucke who is heading the investigation, was quoted in a statement posted on the police department's website as saying the ticket scalping ring made 1 million reals ($455,000) per game and that it used three Rio de Janeiro travel agencies "that sold the tickets at well above their face value."
He said that the 11 men confessed that they organized similar schemes in four previous World Cup tournaments and that they made close to 200 million reals ($91 million) per World Cup.
According to Barucke, Fofana had free access to FIFA-restricted areas, such as the Copacabana Palace Hotel.
"We have reason to believe that a FIFA member was involved with the group," the inspector said adding that the car driven by Fofana had a sticker that allowed him to enter all private FIFA events."