RIO DE JANEIRO – An investigation into scalping World Cup hospitality tickets threatens to mar what has been a successful tournament in Brazil.
Police in Rio de Janeiro conducted Operation Jules Rimet — after the original World Cup trophy which Brazil retained with its third title in 1970 — in the five-star Copacabana Palace Hotel used by top FIFA officials, including its president Sepp Blatter.
A trusted executive of the MATCH group, a longtime FIFA partner which has exclusive rights to corporate hospitality worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was arrested for questioning.
Here are the main players in the case:
Parent company of brothers Jaime and Enrique Byrom from Mexico. Byrom plc, which is based near Manchester, England, and Byrom Holdings plc, registered in the Isle of Man tax haven, oversee a network of subsidiaries specializing in sports event management with operations in Brazil, South Africa, Switzerland and the United States.
Zurich-based subsidiary which owns exclusive rights to sell and market World Cup corporate tickets. MATCH Hospitality paid $120 million to FIFA for rights to the 2014 tournament. It was allocated 445,500 tickets by FIFA, and said it sold 290,000 packages to 11,400 corporate and private customers.
MATCH Hospitality's sales at this World Cup have topped $600 million.
It has paid FIFA $300 million, plus a share of profits, in two-tournament deal to retain the rights for 2018 World Cup in Russia and 2022 in Qatar. Also runs hospitality program for men's tennis season-ending finals event in London in 2014 and '15. Majority shareholder is Byrom Holdings. Minority shareholders include Japanese advertising agency Dentsu and Switzerland-based marketing agency Infront Sports and Media.
Wholly owned subsidiary of Byrom plc appointed by FIFA to provide logistics for the World Cup: Accommodation, including for staff, media and sponsors, ticketing services and information technology. Retained to provide accommodation at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and for FIFA's annual congress meeting.
Directors include Ray Whelan, a brother-in-law of the Byroms who is suspected by Rio police of supplying the scalpers with tickets. He was arrested Monday and released in the early hours of Tuesday.
Infront Sports and Media
Sports marketing agency whose president and CEO is Philippe Blatter, a nephew of FIFA Presdient Sepp Blatter. Infront runs World Cup television production for FIFA through its wholly owned subsidiary Host Broadcast Services. Infront also specializes in winter sports. Based in offices in Zug, Switzerland, which were formerly occupied by the ISL agency. ISL sold World Cup broadcasting rights until collapsing into bankruptcy in 2001, sending FIFA into financial crisis.
Atlanta Sportif Management
Marketing and player representation agency run for more than 20 years by Mohamadou Lamine Fofana. He was arrested by Rio de Janeiro police who suspect him of being the leader of the ticket scalping ring. MATCH Hospitality said Atlanta Sportif was a customer which bought 105 hospitality packages across seven World Cup matches worth $121,750.
Jet Set Sports
A major seller of Olympics Games hospitality packages for 30 years, and official ticket sales agent for national Olympics bodies worldwide.
Based in Far Hills, New Jersey, it was founded in 1975 by current co-CEO Sead Dizdarevic. MATCH Hospitality appointed Jet Set as its exclusive World Cup sales agent for clients in Australia, Norway, Russia and Sweden. It is also a sub-agent for sales in the United States. One ticket sold by Jet Set to a private individual in Australia was seized by Rio police in its Operation Jules Rimet.
Pamodzi Sports Marketing
Marketing and rights acquisition agency owned by Papa Massata Diack, a Senegal national. His father is Lamine Diack, president of the IAAF governing body of athletics and a member of the International Olympic Committee.
MATCH Hospitality appointed Pamodzi as its exclusive sales agent for Nigeria. There, it secured sales of 350 packages across 18 World Cup matches worth $1,250,000.
Reliance Industries Limited
Industrial conglomerate based in Mumbai, India. MATCH Hospitality said Reliance bought access to private suites at World Cup stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo and Belo Horizonte. Its purchase totalled 304 packages across 19 matches worth $1,200,000, according to MATCH.