By Tom Degun
October 4 - Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) President Pat Hickey has dismissed claims made by Brazilian football legend Romário that he has ensured the contract for ticket sales for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Ireland will go to a firm that employs his son, Stephen Hickey.
Romário, the 1994 FIFA World Cup winner who is now a politician in Brazil, claimed Hickey (pictured top) was abusing his position on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Coordination Commission for Rio 2016 by looking to secure the deal.
The former Barcelona striker claimed that Hickey was helping to facilitate the deal due to his close friendship with Rio 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, of whom Romário is also a vocal critic.
"I learnt from reliable sources that his (Hickey's) son works for a subsidiary of the firm which won, thanks to Hickey, the right to sell tickets for the 2016 Olympics," said Romário.
"Everybody knows my determination to ensure that all citizens have access to 2014 World Cup games and to the 2016 Olympics and that is why I am worried.
"Here in Brazil, will tickets for the Games be luxurious goods so the middle class and the poor can only attend on TV?"
But Hickey, who was recently elected onto the powerful IOC Executive Board, has moved to defuse the issue, revealing that the Authorised Ticket Reseller for Rio 2016 has not yet been appointed.
"Regarding Olympic tickets, the following is to fully clarify the situation," said Hickey in a statement.
"Rio 2016 has confirmed it will decide in late 2013 with each National Olympic Committee and its Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) how to ensure efficient ticket sales abroad.
"Therefore, a ticket strategy for Rio is not in place yet and all comments are purely speculative."
He continues: "I am only one member of the 17-strong International Olympic Committee Coordination Commission for the Rio 2016 Games, and I have no functional, contractual or administrative relationship with Rio 2016.
"I will be visiting Rio solely in my role as a Commission member."
The accusations come after Stephen Hickey, who works for THG Sports, the sports hospitality division of the Marcus Evans Group, worked on London 2012.
THG Sports was responsible for London 2012 Olympic ticket sales in Ireland and ran the hugely popular Irish House – the Big Chill House – a large Victorian Pub in the heart of London's King's Cross.
"Ireland's approved ATR for London was appointed with the full approval of the Executive Committee of the Olympic Council of Ireland," continued Hickey.
"In addition, I wish to state very clearly that the OCI is not under and has never been under investigation at any level concerning ticketing issues for the London Games.
"The Irish Hospitality House in London was a commercial project of the Authorised Ticket Reseller and approved by the Executive Committee of the OCI.
"The promoters were appointed six months before they head hunted Stephen Hickey from his management position at the O2 Arena, Canary Wharf, London.
"Stephen is an event management professional who has worked in London for fifteen years, and will leave his position when his contract is completed at the end of this year.
"His appointment was approved by the Executive Committee of the OCI and Stephan had no involvement whatsoever with ticketing."
Hickey was also backed by Rio 2016.
"We are still in the initial phase of drawing up an operational ticket sale plan," said a Rio 2016 statement.
"Rio 2016 will in late 2013 call for bids to choose the firm which will provide the ticket sale system.
"For international sales, Rio 2016 will decide with each National Olympic Committee and its authorised dealer how to ensure efficient ticket sales abroad."
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