By Paul Osborne

A FIFA official is thought to be behind the illegal sale of thousands of World Cup tickets in Brazil ©Getty ImagesAn official from football's world governing body FIFA is behind the illegal sales of thousands of tickets for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it has been claimed. 

Police commissioner Fabio Barucke has said that "someone from FIFA" and "an intermediary from Match Hospitality", the official ticketing agency for FIFA, channelled millions of dollars worth of tickets to the black market.

The news comes after police made 11 arrests on Tuesday (July 1) and broke up an international gang said to have worked at four World Cups, illegally selling tickets worth up to $90 million (£52.5 million/€66.23 million).

As part of the investigation, police said they know the first name of the suspected FIFA official who had clearance to FIFA offices, stadiums and other administrative areas where he would have access to match tickets.

Although the name has not been released, the man, said to be a foreigner and only in Brazil for the World Cup, is believed to be staying at a hotel in Rio de Janeiro.

Barucke revealed the investigation, undertaken without the knowledge of FIFA, is dubbed "Operation Jules Rimet".

"We are now calling for FIFA's assistance to help us identify this FIFA person," said Barucke.

The man behind the scandal was initially thought to be Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, a Franco-Algerian based in Dubai, according to Barucke.

"But after his arrest we realised there was someone above him from FIFA with an intermediary at Match Hospitality," added Barucke.

"We want to identify the last link in the chain, from the ticket touts at the stadiums, right through to those who are above Lamine Fofana and who passed the tickets on to him.

"We have indications that at least one person from FIFA passed on tickets [to Match Hospitality]."

FIFA marketing director and the man in charge of ticketing at FIFA, Thierry Weil, said football's world governing body "is fully supporting the local authorities in their investigations" ©Getty ImagesFIFA marketing director and the man in charge of ticketing at FIFA, Thierry Weil, said football's world governing body "is fully supporting the local authorities in their investigations"
©Getty Images

Brazilian authorities said on Wednesday (July 2) they suspected members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations were involved in the scheme.

Commenting on the incident yesterday, Thierry Weil, FIFA's marketing director and responsible for ticketing at FIFA, said: "With regard to 'Operation Jules Rimet', FIFA is fully supporting the local authorities in their investigations into ticket scalping and any illegal sale of FIFA World Cup tickets.

"FIFA's ticketing experts will tomorrow analyse the seized tickets in order to validate them as well as to assist the authorities in identifying the source of the tickets and track down the channels of those tickets.

"FIFA and the local authorities will ensure that any violations will be sanctioned accordingly.

"FIFA takes a firm stance against any form of violation of the ticketing regulations and is very pleased with the great collaboration with the security authorities in our joint efforts to clamp down any unauthorised ticket sales.

"Furthermore, FIFA wants to confirm that Mohamadou Lamine Fofana was never accredited for the FIFA World Cup nor had any access to any official car pool of the FIFA World Cup.

"Please understand that we cannot comment further as the proceedings are ongoing."

Lamine Fofana is currently being detained in a house he rented in western Rio de Janeiro belonging to former Brazil international Julio Baiano.

The suspects face charges of black market dealing and money-laundering.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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