By Andrew Warshaw in Paris
July 8 – A former FIFA ticketing partner says he is suing the organisation for $40 million “for business losses” in a dispute over World Cup packages.
Benny Alon, who has been selling tickets since 1990 through his company JB Sports Marketing AG, claims FIFA “did not deliver” agreed packages for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and that the quality of seats provided did not match those in a written contract.
JB signed a 2010 deal to sell 8,750 tickets for Brazil but Alon says he lost clients as a result of FIFA reneging on what was agreed and that legal action will be filed “within the next few days”.
Combined with projected losses for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a statement issued by JB Sports Marketing’s lawyer Heinz Schild said the company “had no other choice” than to file a complaint against FIFA in Switzerland and that former executives Jerome Valcke and Markus Kattner – both no longer at FIFA after being dismissed for unrelated misdemeanours – would be called as witnesses since they were apparently signatories to the original contract.
Alon made the announcement at a hastily called and somewhat confusing press conference in Paris today, half of which actually focussed on accusations that FIFA’s top brass had conspired to get rid of Michel Platini, a long-time friend of Alon who would have been attending Sunday’s Euro 2016 final in the French capital were he not banned over that infamous SFr2.2 million “disloyal payment” received in 2011 but previously undeclared.
Alon claimed FIFA had tried to stop today’s press conference, just as they had, he charged, in September when his revelations about Valcke’s conduct over a scheme to sell World Cup tickets at above face value brought down Sepp Blatter’s one-time right-hand man.
“Our business suffered tremendously because FIFA cheated us on the seat location,” Alon, an Israeli-American, told reporters. “The contract said we were supposed to get tickets between the goals and instead we got tickets behind the goals. We couldn’t provide clients with what we had guaranteed and what FIFA had guaranteed us.”
Alon said JB ended up being 3,500 tickets short of what they had expected but in a hard-hitting counter-statement FIFA totally rejected Alon’s version of events.
“FIFA is aware that JB Sports Marketing has announced its intention to file a lawsuit against FIFA. Any such lawsuit is entirely baseless and without merit, and FIFA will contest it vigorously. Additionally, FIFA will consider all options available against JB Sports Marketing, including filing counter claims and criminal complaints against JB Sports Marketing,” it stated.
“FIFA ended its association with JB Sports Marketing in 2013 when it discovered the company had committed multiple breaches to its marketing contract with FIFA. In September 2015, Benny Alon of JB Sports Marketing claimed at a news conference that he tried to bribe former FIFA Secretary General, Jerome Valcke, in order to sell World Cup tickets illegally and split the profits with Mr. Valcke. Mr. Valcke was dismissed as Secretary General of FIFA and a criminal investigation was initiated by the Office of the Swiss Attorney General (OAG). FIFA condemns the actions of all those who abused their positions in football for personal gain. Since the OAG’s investigation is ongoing, FIFA will have no further comment.”
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