THE BLOG

Brazil Scores

ASSOCIATED PRESS

You, reader, must be finding this title strange after Brazil's humiliating 7-1 defeat to Germany in the World Cup semifinals.

But that's not what I am talking about.

Just one day before the match, the Rio de Janeiro Police came to action to show once more that this World Cup has its place in history.

On Monday, July 7, police came into the luxurious hotel Copacabana Palace, where the FIFA delegation was staying, to arrest Ray Whelan, CEO of Match Hospitality, a FIFA allied company which holds exclusive rights for selling World Cup tickets. This was the 12th arrest in an investigation of the illegal release of tickets originally allocated to players, federations and NGOs in the black market.

Brazilian officials found 900 telephone calls between the gang leader, an Algerian national, and Whelan. One of the shareholders of Match Hospitality is Philippe Blatter, nephew of FIFA's President Joseph Blatter. The gang earned about U.S. $100 million, Brazilian officials say.

Fabio Barucke, the detective leading the investigation, said in a press conference they are now investigating links between the gang and FIFA officials. He accused FIFA of diverting tickets to sponsors and partners to guarantee scarcity and encourage huge profits.

"Only a small portion of the tickets have been allocated to the people," he said.

The scheme has been active for at least four World Cups, as the British journalist Andrew Jennings has denounced in many of his investigations for the BBC.

"Ray Whelan will have to talk," writes Jennings. "He knows everything to be known about World Cup ticket rackets. He knows which of football's leaders get their bundles of tickets to resell into the black market. He has been at the heart of the business for nearly two decades."

Arresting the CEO of a company intimately tied to FIFA was a brave gesture -- and unprecedented in the history of World Cups. Though the Judge agreed to release Whelan on a U.S. $2,250 bail, he had to deliver his passport to Brazilian authorities and can't leave the country while the investigation in ongoing.

So now that supporting the Brazilian football team is no longer an option, we can all help to support and demand justice be done. If there is something we have learned from the past year, it is that only with strong popular pressure will justice be served.

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