Tuesday 23 July 2019

Brazilian star Romario tried to question OCI boss on tickets

Former Brazilian footballer Romario is now a politician in his native
country. Getty Images
Former Brazilian footballer Romario is now a politician in his native country. Getty Images

Shane Phelan and Nicola Anderson

Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) president Pat Hickey has previously faced questions about ticket-selling firm THG.

Former Brazilian soccer star Romario, now a politician, raised concerns on his personal website regarding the contract for ticket sales for Ireland for the London Olympic Games in 2012 which went to a subsidiary of a firm that employed his son Stephan.

Mr Hickey, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), dismissed the accusations. The former Barcelona star pushed for Mr Hickey and Brazil's Olympic boss Carlos Nuzman to appear before the government's congress to answer questions regarding ticketing ahead of the 2016 Games.

"Everyone knows of my concern to ensure all citizens access to the games of the World Cup and the Olympics," he wrote in a long entry that was originally intended to be a parliamentary speech.

"Here in Brazil, will tickets for the Games be luxurious goods so the middle class and the poor can only attend on TV?" asked Romario.

Romario also called on the Dubliner to explain why his son Stephan was employed by THG, the company appointed by the OCI to sell their ticket allocation for London and to run the official Irish House hospitality venue in King's Cross during those Games.

Romario said he was concerned ticket packages would be too expensive.

However, the proposed visit to the Brazilian congress never took place.

Mr Hickey denied any impropriety in the arrangements made for selling tickets in London.

He said the Irish House was a commercial project of THG as the OCI's then authorised ticket reseller.

Stephan Hickey was headhunted by THG from his role in management at the O2 in London. Mr Hickey said his son had no involvement in ticketing.

Pat Hickey was also backed by Rio 2016 organisers which said: "For international sales, Rio 2016 will decide with each National Olympic Committee and its authorised dealer how to ensure efficient ticket sales abroad."

Irish Independent

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