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2 ticket touts arrested at FIFA hotel in Rio

AP - Sports

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- Two people have been arrested selling World Cup tickets in a hotel used by FIFA in Rio de Janeiro.

Around 50 tickets seized included some originally sent to FIFA member federations, World Cup sponsors and hospitality agencies, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil told a news briefing Thursday.

However, the touts had tickets in small blocks of seats and did not seem to be supplied in a systematic operation, Weil said.

''There have been many, many different sources which most probably have been collected from individuals,'' the FIFA official said.

Weil said he had ''no idea'' if some tickets were originally issued to FIFA executive committee members. At previous World Cups, some FIFA board members have been implicated in profiteering by supplying the black market.

In Rio de Janeiro, one of the ticket touts arrested on Tuesday appeared to be French, Weil said.

FIFA called police to the Sofitel hotel near Copacabana beach and ''the reaction was immediate.''

''For me it is amazing to see that ticket touts are coming to the official hotel of FIFA, sitting in between FIFA people and selling tickets without any problem,'' Weil said.

He declined to identify the original seat holders which are named on each World Cup ticket.

''I think it would be wrong to do a finger pointing in the press,'' he said, adding that FIFA's commercial affiliates received more than 200,000 match tickets for the 64-match tournament.

Weil said tickets could have been legitimately sold on to fans by FIFA member federations or distributed by sponsors to competition winners.

The match tickets seized were cancelled.

At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, FIFA board member Ismail Bhamjee of Botswana was sent home and later resigned after being caught in a ticket scam. He tried to sell 12 seats for England vs. Trinidad & Tobago at three times face value.

Long-time FIFA vice president Jack Warner of Trinidad was also implicated in profiteering on 2006 World Cup ticket packages.

Weil said ticket operations in Brazil were running smoothly, though he was suspicious of so many match-day requests from people wanting new tickets to replace lost or stolen ones.

FIFA does not reissue tickets on the day of a match.

''We have so many cases that really it is not possible that so many people have been robbed,'' Weil said.

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