Friday 9 December 2016

Former Brazilian football legend says he alerted the government to the 'activities of the ticket mafia'

Cathal McMahon

Published 22/08/2016 | 19:18

Former Brazilian star Romario is now a politician
Former Brazilian star Romario is now a politician

World Cup winner Romario has backed a major fraud investigation into Pat Hickey and the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI)

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In a statement, released to Independent.ie, the former Barcelona and Brazil star said he alerted the government to the "activities of the ticket mafia" four years ago.

Romario, who is now a Socialist senator in Brazil, said: "I told them it was my belief that they would also act during Rio 2016.

"I am satisfied with the police action that has taken place."

Mr Hickey (71) who denies any wrongdoing, is currently being held in Brazil's largest prison complex.

Ricardo Barboza de Souza, head of the Civil Police Fraud Unit in Rio de Janeiro that is running the investigation, told Independent.ie at the weekend that the former footballer played a key role.

He said: "Romario, who is a former footballer, is now an important politician here... He tipped us off in 2012. He already denounced Pat (Hickey) and said there is something going on here.

"That was a very big factor. In the parliament he made it public. He said it in front of everyone about Pat Hickey."

Romario said he had no further comments on the case.

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