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Saturday, July 5, 2014, 11:43

FIFA member behind illegal Cup ticket sales: Police

By Agence France-Press in Rio de Janeiro ( China Daily )

Soccer's powerful governing body came under renewed scrutiny after a Brazilian police chiefsaid on Thursday a FIFA member provided thousands of World Cup tickets sold illegally atgames for millions of dollars.

Police commissioner Fabio Barucke said "someone from FIFA" and "an intermediary fromMatch Hospitality", FIFA's ticket agency, had channeled the tickets onto the black market.

The FIFA figure, whom police are trying to identify, is believed to be staying at the CopacabanaPalace, a luxury Rio de Janeiro hotel used by some FIFA hierarchy at the World Cup, Baruckesaid.

The scandal is the latest to hit FIFA, which is already battling allegations that members acceptedbribes from a Qatari soccer official to secure support for the emirate's campaign to get the 2022World Cup finals.

Brazilian police on Tuesday arrested 11 people accused of selling tickets that may have beenobtained through a contact at soccer's governing body. The tickets are normally reserved forsponsors, soccer federations, players and non-government organizations.

A police investigation, dubbed "Operation Jules Rimet" after the former French FIFA president,was launched without FIFA's knowledge, the police chief said.

Following the arrests, "we are now calling for FIFA's assistance to help us identify this FIFAperson, a foreigner staying in the Copacabana Palace hotel," Barucke said.

"We have some elements about the person and FIFA's help will be indispensable in order tohave his full name," Barucke said.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter, under fierce pressure over the Qatar claims and other allegedcorruption at his organization, said he was unaware of the case, according to Estadaonewspaper's website.

"I am not aware of anything. I don't handle tickets. I handle politics," Blatter was quoted as saying.

A FIFA spokeswoman said earlier the world body was waiting for more information on the inquirybefore commenting.

Initially, police thought that Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, a Franco-Algerian based in Dubai, wasthe central figure, Barucke said.

"But after his arrest we realized there was someone above him from FIFA with an intermediary at Match Hospitality," he said.

"We want to identify the last link in the chain, from the ticket touts at the stadiums, right through tothose who are above Lamine Fofana and who passed the tickets on to him," said Barucke.

Brazilian authorities said on Wednesday they suspected members of the Brazilian, Argentineand Spanish soccer federations were involved in the scheme.

Marcos Kac, the Rio de Janeiro investigating magistrate in charge of the inquiry, said onWednesday that at least 1,000 tickets per game were involved with a basic price of 1,000 euros($1,365).

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