Thursday 27 October 2016

Minister for Sport Shane Ross expresses concerns over OCI's investigation committee in ticket touting scandal

Published 12/08/2016 | 12:59

Shane Ross,TD, the Minister for Transport,Tourism and Sport
Shane Ross,TD, the Minister for Transport,Tourism and Sport

Minister for Sport Shane Ross has stated he is not happy with how the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) intends to investigate the ticket touting scandal in Rio.

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Mr Ross will fly out to Rio on Sunday and will immediately seek a meeting with OCI President Pat Hickey to ensure the government have full confidence in how the investigation will be conducted and, more importantly, who will be on the investigating committee.

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio today, Mr Ross expressed his concern in the make-up of the OCI investigation committee, insisting that an independent observer is a necessity.

"I think it's difficult to know how many investigations are going on, one being carried out by the OCI, one being carried out by the Rio 2016 (organisers) and maybe one being carried out by the International Olympic Committee, and another investigation which is a criminal one carried out by the Brazilian police," said Mr Ross.

"I am reassured to some extent to know that they are now active in doing what is necessary and they have yielded to pressure which as come from here.

"What I am not happy about is the make up of the committee. I think that the independence of the OCI committee is something we should look at. It does appear from what he (Pat Hickey) said on the programme that the committee looking into this consists of the vice-President of the OCI, the secretary general of the OCI. They are approved by the executive committee of the OCI.

OCI president Pat Hickey. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
OCI president Pat Hickey. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

"The problem here is that the Olympic Council of Ireland is a player itself."

Mr Ross added that he has some serious questions for Hickey when thew meet at the weekend.

"I want to know about the contract with ATR. I want to know whether all the tickets which were earmarked for Ireland and the OCI went to the ATR or whether they went elsewhere. I want to know how the committee was picked to investigate this," he added.

"They said they never handled them (the tickets), but we have to know if they controlled their destination."

The main topic of conversation between Mr Ross and Pat Hickey will no doubt centre on the make up of the committee who will investigate, while he also revealed the government will conduct their own "robust inquiry".

"That's the unease that I have, there is no independent investigation of the OCI. It is essential that they are independently investigated as well. Just say the questions turn around to the OCI, the OCI will be investigating itself."

Meanwhile, Director of Ticketing for Rio 2016, Donovan Ferreti, highlighted the seriousness of the whole issue.

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Ferreti said that Rio organisers are seeking answers from the OCI.

"We sent some questions, and as soon as we receive the information we will try to figure out what happened with these tickets," he said.

"We take this subject very seriously because we want the tickets in the hands of a fan."

Ferreti also confirmed that the OCI have been in contact with Rio organisers.

"The only information I have received is (asking) to provide information according to investigations as they would like to clarify what happened here. As soon as we receive some information from this group of police, we are going to share and in this case of course they can start an investigation on their side," said Ferreti.

"Here is Brazil it is considered a crime. When you sell tickets above face value, the person is considered as a 'scalper' and here you can be arrested and stay in jail for two or three years. So here in Brazil we take this very seriously."

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