The English executive who was arrested as part of a World Cup ticket touting investigation has given up his accreditation for the tournament.
Ray Whelan, a director of MATCH Services which provides ticket, hospitality, accommodation and IT services for FIFA, was arrested by police in Rio de Janeiro as part of Operation Jules Rimet.
MATCH has described his arrest as “illegal” and criticised the police investigation, while Whelan, who has been freed on bail, insists he has committed no wrongdoing.
A statement from MATCH read: “Mr Whelan’s arrest was arbitrary and illegal. The leakage of fragments of Ray’s wire-tapped private conversations… is also illegal.
“The 18th Precinct Rio Police are making assumptions without a proper investigation and with minimal understanding of how the ticket and hospitality package selling system really works.
“The police have not attempted to investigate the facts and have consequently proceeded to misrepresent the relevance of their findings.
“Mr Ray Whelan will voluntarily relinquish his accreditation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil today.
“In doing so, Mr Whelan wishes to reaffirm his total commitment to safeguard the interests of the company MATCH Services, as well as FIFA and the FIFA World Cup. Mr Whelan wishes to reiterate that he takes this decision with no acceptance of wrongdoing and that he remains fully cooperative for further investigations which he is certain will exonerate him.”
Police arrested Whelan in the Copacabana Hotel, which is the base for FIFA’s top executives, and seized 83 hospitality packages and tickets, a laptop, two mobile phones and 1,300 US dollars.
MATCH said the police had refused to provide details of the tickets that were seized but that they believe the tickets were for past matches, retained as mementoes, or for personal use by senior management of MATCH and their families and friends.
MATCH said recordings of mobile phone conversations between Whelan and an Algerian, Lamine Fofana, who police allege was the leader of the ticket touting ring, only showed Whelan legitimately negotiating the sale of hospitality packages to Fofana.
MATCH admitted that offering the packages for cash was “highly unusual” but that it was “permitted under the various terms and conditions” and that the transactions never actually took place.
“MATCH wishes to state that there is nothing inappropriate or criminal in the way Mr Whelan has conducted himself in the phone conversation recorded by the police,” said the statement.
“He was quoting the availability of the correct product at the correct price.”