July 7 – The Colombian Football Federation (FCF) and a raft of its most influential officials – including FIFA Council member Ramon Jesurun (pictured) – have been fined $4.6 million over a scam involving selling 2018 World Cup qualifying tickets at inflated prices.
The ruling came after a two-year investigation by the Supintendencia de Industria y Comercio – the country’s business regulator – against some of the very same people who led Colombia’s recent unsuccessful bid to win the right to stage the 2023 Women’s World Cup, a bid backed by all nine European members on the FIFA Council.
Investigators said the tickets were sold at well above market prices and restricted the ability of other firms to compete. More than 42,000 tickets for eight of Colombia’s nine home games were involved in the scam, generating profits of more than $3.5 million.
The Federation, two private companies and 17 others formed “a cartel to detour tickets with the aim of reselling them” to “generate excessively high prices,” Andres Barreto, head of the industry and commerce Office (SIC), was quoted as saying.
The matches involved were played between October 2015 and October 2017, ahead of the World Cup in Russia the following year, where Colombia reached the last 16.
Among those fined were federation president Jesurun and his predecessor Luis Bedoya, one of those who pleaded guilty in the FifaGate scandal and who has been banned for life.
Barreto said the federation unfairly favoured the company Ticketshop in assigning it the right to sell match tickets. Ticketshop then “signed a contract … with the company Ticketya, which in reality … had access to the box office and put (the tickets) on resale with up to 350 percent” mark up, SIC said.
In one of the examples cited, Colombia’s home qualifier against Brazil in Barranquilla, TICKET YA charged 270,000 ($74) pesos for tickets with a face value of 60,000 pesos ($16.4), a mark-up of 350%.
The Colombian authorities said executives were “fully aware” of the scam but in response the federation said it would appeal and claimed there was a “lack of evidence”.
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