Tuesday 12 December 2017

Pat Hickey felt 'totally abandoned' by Irish authorities as the Rio Olympics nightmare unfolded

Former OCI president may take legal action, and book is in pipeline

Pat Hickey may take legal action against people who ‘said many things’ about him when he was away. Picture: PA
Pat Hickey may take legal action against people who ‘said many things’ about him when he was away. Picture: PA

Paul Williams

Pat Hickey has said he felt "totally" abandoned by the Irish authorities during the "extraordinary set of events" during the Rio Olympics.

The former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland has compared himself with Ray Whelan, the British boss of a FIFA partner firm who was arrested in Brazil over alleged illegal ticket sales for the 2014 World Cup - but was eventually released without charge.

Mr Hickey intends to write a book about his experiences and has indicated that he may take legal action against the people who "said many things" about him when he was away.

Almost a year after the dramatic turn of events that saw his arrest over the alleged illegal resale of tickets, he has spoken of his "humiliation" at what occurred.

"There's no doubt about it - the arrest was a humiliation on my behalf at six o'clock in the morning at my hotel bedroom," he said.

"To open the door to the full glare of the world's media was just incredible. This was sold on by the police that they were going to arrest me, the media didn't arrive there by accident."

He said there was no doubt he had been "absolutely humiliated" and treated in a disgraceful manner on his arrest "and everyone in the world saw".

He claimed the media had paid the police for access and said "this is a regular occurrence in Brazil".

Asked whether he had felt abandoned by the Irish authorities, he replied: "Totally, totally."

"I mean, I got a visit by the Irish council out in Rio, they were excellent, they were good but they can do very little on the ground except support but I would have seen stronger government representation on my behalf," he said.

Mr Hickey claimed that when he was in prison, there was "an American guy in for the same thing and a British guy and a French guy and they were all out pronto fast".

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"But Ireland seemed to have no clout whatsoever in Brazil," he said, claiming the stress of the event affected his family and his own health and that he now suffers from heart problems.

In an exclusive interview with Irish Independent journalist Paul Williams to be broadcast on 'Newstalk Breakfast' today, he claimed his legal team in Brazil are "working flat out" to clear his name. "What happened with me in Rio was just an extraordinary set of events," he explained.

"There is a precedent for it, in the World Cup soccer in Brazil - in Rio - in 2014 two years before, there was an identical case to mine, it's called the Ray Whelan case.

"He was arrested the same as I was arrested except the poor man was held for three weeks in jail whereas I was held for 10 days," he said.

"He fought the case, it took him two years to clear his name, he was totally exonerated and cleared."

The court in Brazil had ruled that there was insufficient evidence relating to Mr Whelan.

"The judge of the supreme court in Brazil excoriated the judge and the prosecutor in the lower court who had moved against him," said Mr Hickey.

Meanwhile, he said, he is now "a very happy man" and intends to put the incident behind him.

Warning

But in a warning, he said: "Lots of people said many things about me when I was away. My legal team have kept a record and track of everything so when I clear my name, I'll spend some time reading over all those."

Mr Hickey in particular took exception to suggestions that there was a concealed relationship between him and The Hospitality Group (THG) Sports. THG wasn't approved by the Rio organising committee, the OCI appointed Pro10 Sports Management instead.

"(There was) absolutely no concealed relationship between me and THG or any of the other sponsors, or anybody else," he said.

"Everthing I have done for the OCI - don't forget I was always acting as the president of the OCI, not as Pat Hickey personally - so my job was in charge of marketing, to look after our sponsors. THG is the biggest sponsor of all our sponsors at €1.5m ...and my job was to facilitate them to get the best deal possible on tickets."

Irish Independent

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