July 2, 2014
Police in Brazil say they have arrested 11 people and broken up an international gang that was involved in the illegal sale of World Cup tickets.
The scheme is said to have earned the gang as much as $90m (£52m) per tournament and could have been operating for four World Cups.
Some of the tickets seized were meant for sponsors, while others had been allocated to Brazil team officials.
Police believe some of the tickets were sold to foreign tourists.
Twenty simultaneous search warrants were enforced on Tuesday morning in an operation named “Jules Rimet”.
Jules Rimet was a president of the international football governing body, Fifa, and initiated the World Cup tournament in 1929. The original World Cup trophy – given to Brazil in perpetuity after their third World Cup triumph in 1970, and subsequently stolen – was named after him.
The BBC’s Wyre Davies, in Rio de Janeiro, says police were reportedly investigating the gang’s operations in Brazil for the last three months ahead of the raids.
Among items seized during the arrests were 100 tickets, computers, US dollars, mobile phones and documents.
Police said the man they suspect of being the leader of the gang, Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, was an Algerian national who “had free access to restricted Fifa areas”.
Fabio Barucke, a senior police officer involved in the investigation, said that there were “clues which lead us to believe he could have ties to someone from Fifa”.
“His car had a sticker which gave him access to any private Fifa event”, Mr Barucke explained.
According to Mr Barucke, the suspects confessed to running the scam at four World Cups.
“The gang goes to the host country. It’s possible that they only work during the World Cups as their profit is so large they can sit back in between Cups.”
Those arrested could face charges of money laundering, criminal association and illegally selling tickets.