Belfast Telegraph

Firm at centre of Olympic ticket sale allegations calls for judicial review

A hospitality firm embroiled in allegations of illegal ticket sales at the Rio Olympics has called for Brazilian judges to review the case after one of their directors was arrested.

THG Sports said Kevin Mallon should be released after he was detained by police last Friday as they seized about 1,000 tickets for the games, including some allocated to the Olympic Council of Ireland.

"THG Sports is a global company committed to the highest ethical and professional standards, operating in full compliance with local laws and regulations," it said.

"The company is seeking an urgent review of the case by the Brazilian judiciary and is seeking Mr Mallon's release."

THG's lawyers in Rio, Franklin Gomes, made the call as t he Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) urged Brazilian authorities to hand over all information it has from investigations into alleged illegal ticket selling at the games.

The firm also claimed Mr Mallon was arrested after "a private individual" made allegations to police.

"There is no evidence to support these claims and certain allegations made have been shown to be false. Mr Mallon and THG Sports are co-operating fully with the Brazilian authorities," it said.

Amid deepening pressure in Dublin over why Irish allocated tickets are at the centre of controversy there have been calls for the OCI president Pat Hickey to be hauled before a parliamentary spending watchdog.

The OCI of Ireland said it was treating the controversy with the utmost seriousness.

"We have formally requested the Rio 2016 Organising Committee to pass on immediately all evidence and relevant information from the investigating Brazilian authorities to enable the OCI to advance our inquiries as quickly as possible," a spokesman said.

"In the meantime, the OCI has also recommended to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Rio 2016 Organising Committee that if any wrongdoing is discovered on the part of any authorised ticket reseller in this affair then its status ... be reviewed both for Rio 2016 and future games.

"The Olympic Council of Ireland strictly adheres to the International Olympic Committee regulations around ticket allocation, sale and re-sale.

"We are treating this matter with the utmost seriousness."

THG is a London-based firm which offers hospitality packages for sports events around the world and is part of the group of companies owned by Ipswich Town Football Club owner Marcus Evans.

It denies any unlawful activity and insisted it will vigorously defend their employee and claimed Brazilian authorities were attempting to disrupt the company's "legitimate activities".

Ireland's Sports Minister, Shane Ross, described the affair as embarrassing, regrettable and a great shame.

The minister said his office has demanded answers from the OCI about the issue and said he expects the IOC to launch its own investigation.

Mr Ross said the case involved tickets allocated to other countries and not just Ireland.

The OCI said it has no knowledge of either of the individuals arrested and has launched "an immediate investigation" with its authorised ticket reseller, Pro10.


From Belfast Telegraph