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Jul 4, 2014

Son of FIFA VP admits ticket sales

The son of the second most powerful man in world football has become embroiled in a World Cup ticket scandal.

Humberto Grondona, son of Argentina's senior FIFA vice-president Julio Grondona, has admitted to selling on tickets to a friend contrary to FIFA's regulations.

The tickets are among those seized by Brazilian police as part of investigations into ticket touting which has seen 11 people arrested. Pictures of one of the tickets seized with Humberto Grondona's name on it has been circulated.

The disclosure that Grondona's son has been involved is a huge embarrassment to FIFA - he has a post as a technical adviser to the world governing body. His father has been a FIFA executive committee member since 1988 and is also chairman of FIFA's powerful finance committee.

Grondona junior told Argentinian TV station TYC he spent more than $9,000  (5,244 pounds) on 24 category one tickets for group games and knock-out matches including a semi-final and final and had sold some on to a friend.

He said: "I bought all of them for more than $9,000, I have a friend that is someone very well known in Argentina who wanted to come and I sold to him some of these tickets.

"He on his part gave the tickets to another friend, what they then did with the tickets I have no idea."

Asked for the identity of the person he sold the tickets to, Grondona junior added: "I cannot tell you. But do you think I would dirty my hands for $220 [128 pounds]? The truth is that I have no idea where these tickets went to.''

FIFA emailed all employees and everyone on the World Cup delegation list before the tournament warning them not to sell on tickets, which have an electronic chip which makes them traceable back to the person who purchased them.

Delia Fischer, FIFA's head of media, would not comment on the investigation but said if anyone was found to have breached regulations they would face disciplinary action.

She told a news conference in Rio: "We cannot comment on ongoing investigations but anyone who has violated the regulations will be sanctioned.

"I cannot go into specific cases but we need to see the source of the original tickets and how the tickets ended up somewhere.

"Even where you have specific names you cannot always jump to conclusions.''

Fischer confirmed that anyone found having breached the regulations can have their tickets for any future games removed.

She added:  "If someone is violating something then tickets can be cancelled accordingly but we need to see who is involved, which tickets they are and then we can take necessary action.''

Grondona junior is not the FIFA official at the heart of the multi-million pound ticket scandal uncovered by Operation Jules Rimet, however, according to police. His ticket was seized by Sao Paulo police from touts in that city.

Fabio Barucke, the police investigator in charge of the Rio investigation, said a FIFA official who was a source of the tickets had access to FIFA offices and stadiums and match tickets.

Some tickets have been re-sold for eight times their face value.

Barucke said the ticketing ring aimed to make up to 60 million pounds by illegally re-selling tickets and that the group had operated at previous World Cups.

The suspected ringleader has been named as Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, an Algerian man who was previously staying at the Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio, where all the FIFA top executives are staying.

Barucke believes Fofana was the middleman and that the ticket source was "someone higher up'' the chain.

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