REVEALED: FIFA forced to pay £15m to World Cup ticket touts in extraordinary case set to tarnish governing body
- Football’s governing body FIFA has been forced to pay £15m to ticket touts
- The case surrounds a company that traded World Cup tickets on black market
- FIFA could be faced with a similar pay-out in a related case it can be revealed
FIFA have been forced to pay almost £15million in compensation to a company that traded in black market World Cup tickets in an extraordinary case set to tarnish the world governing body’s name yet again.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that FIFA may also be faced to pay out as much again in a related case, opening a can of worms about the scale of historic touting corruption implicating top officials.
FIFA’s former secretary general Jerome Valcke, the long-time right-hand man of disgraced former president Sepp Blatter, lost his job after being suspended in September 2015 amid a ticket touting scandal first exposed by this newspaper.
FIFA has been forced to pay £15million in compensation to 2018 Russia World Cup ticket touts
Valcke stood accused at the time of breaking FIFA’s own rules in agreeing to supply tickets to the 2010, 2014 and 2018 World Cups to a firm called JB Sports Marketing (JBSM), knowing JBSM would sell them way above face value for profit.
JBSM had been selling World Cup tickets for huge black market profits with the help of FIFA insiders since the 1990s. It was alleged Valcke agreed to split a share of the illicit proceeds from 2014 and 2018 and that in April 2013, a suitcase was loaded with $500,000 in cash as part payment for Valcke as part of the deal.
Valcke never actually collected that suitcase, and denies agreeing to take any kickbacks, although these allegations were among many laid out again recently in a Court of Arbitration for Sport document upholding the 10-year-ban from football Valcke was handed for multiple FIFA ethics rule violations.
Separately, since 2015 JBSM has been engaged in a legal battle to sue FIFA, in effect, for the value of tickets promised to them by Valcke for the 2014 World Cup but never actually delivered. It is that case that has now come to fruition, with a final binding judgement by the Swiss Supreme Court that FIFA owed JBSM $16.8m plus annual interest at five per cent for a total of around $18.6m or £14.7m.
One Mexico fan held a sign showing a need for tickets and touts were kept busy by supporters
The ruling in effect concludes Valcke’s promise of tickets — extensively documented with paperwork and emails — was legally binding.
The Supreme Court arbitration ruling paperwork names FIFA as one party in the dispute and JBSM are easily identifiable to anyone familiar with the matter as the other. Sources have confirmed that FIFA have already paid JBSM the £14.7m cash since the ruling in late November.
It is understood that JBSM will now press ahead with a second legal action to claim compensation for not receiving around 4,000 of the best tickets for this summer’s World Cup in Russia, also promised to them but not delivered. They were due 1,000 premium seats for the World Cup final alone. The compensation claim for the 2018 tournament could be between $20m and $40m.
FIFA will be embarrassed anew that senior figures agreed to deals that put World Cup tickets in huge numbers into touts hands for profit while seeking to ban third parties doing the same.
Also, renewed scrutiny could yet implicate officials never hitherto linked to touting, some still in senior football posts around the world.
A FIFA spokesman confirmed on Saturday night that FIFA have paid JBSM, adding FIFA would ‘defend itself vigorously’ against future claims.
OTHER NOTABLE WORLD CUP TICKET CONTROVERSIES
1998: The late Chuck Blazer, a long-time FIFA ExCo member, was seen apparently touting tickets above face value in a Montpellier hotel lobby at France 98. He denied this, saying his involvement must have been misinterpreted as he rushed through the lobby on the way to a match he was going to watch alongside his friend and American compatriot, Henry Kissinger.
2006: Disgraced FIFA ExCo member Jack Warner was a serial ticket tout, most notably around the 2006 World Cup, when his own nation, Trinidad & Tobago, qualified for the tournament in Germany. Warner effectively took a massive tranche of tickets meant for fans in the Caribbean and sold them on the black market via his family travel agency, Simpaul.
Since the 1990s: Unknown to many supporters or even officials, responsibility for the allocation of around 10 per cent of tickets for each and every World Cup match is placed with the office of FIFA’s secretary general, whoever he was at the time. These are meant for VIPs, top officials, ‘the football family’ and sponsors. But it is believed many have ended up on the black market.
… and a note on FIFA spending
$40m – the approximate sum FIFA are expected to use for pay-offs in 2018-19 for bungled black market deals for World Cup tickets at the 2014 and 2018 men’s World Cups
$30m – the total amount of prize money FIFA have allocated for all nations combined competing in the women’s World Cup in France in 2019