Sport Rio 2016 Olympics

Monday 20 January 2020

Delaney breaks silence to dispute Hickey's claims

Lawyer says ticket decision 'collective' as Mallon release delayed

ASSURANCES: John Delaney stated he has no role in ticketing. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE
ASSURANCES: John Delaney stated he has no role in ticketing. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Jerome Reilly, Maeve Sheehan and Cathal McMahon in Rio

FAI chief John Delaney has broken his silence over the Rio ticketing fiasco and denied he had a role in any decision-making regarding the granting of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) ticketing licence for the Games.

It comes as OCI president Pat Hickey's lawyer, Simone Kamenetz, revealed that her client told Brazilian police he was not solely responsible for decisions on ticketing.

Ms Kamenetz last night told the Sunday Independent that it had been a "collegiate" decision.

Earlier she said Mr Hickey told officers that the decision to appoint THG, and subsequently Pro10, as the authorised ticket reseller for the Rio Olympics was a collective one.

"He was asked if he was the one who has the last word. He is not. The police think this council was like a company with the boss at the top of the tree. He explained to them that it was not like this at all."

Last night the Olympic Council of Ireland said it was unable to comment on the OCI's handling of ticketing for Rio until the State inquiry has concluded. 

Read more: The John Delaney files: The tough tackler, smooth operator who has often courted controversy

These latest developments mean there is a direct contradiction between what Pat Hickey allegedly told police in Rio and Mr Delaney's strong denial yesterday of any role in ticketing for the Games.

According to an English language media briefing given by investigator Aloysio Falcao, the Brazilian police had wanted to interview Mr Delaney and OCI deputy president (now acting president) Willie O'Brien, because Mr Hickey had named them as "the big guys in the OCI".

Last night THG executive Irishman Kevin Mallon was due to be freed on bail after the lack of available electronic ankle tags had earlier threatened to delay his release after 23 days in Bangu prison.

OCI second deputy president John Delaney did not reply to questions from the Sunday Independent last night.

But yesterday, the British-owned Irish Daily Mail published a correction and apology to Delaney, which included assurances from the FAI chief that "he had no role whatsoever in this matter; that he does not have an executive role in the OCI, but that he is a voluntary and unpaid member of the executive committee which is the statutory board of the OCI, along with approximately 12 others; and that he had no role whatsoever in any decision-making regarding the granting of the OCI ticketing licence for Rio 2016".

The apparent contradiction in the positions of Mr Hickey and his OCI second deputy president, Mr Delaney, came as it emerged that Kevin Mallon, the Dublin executive with British-based firm THG, was due to be released on bail but will remain under strict curfew and will have to remain in the Brazilian city.

The Superior Court of Justice (STJ) in Brazil has granted an injunction authorising the release of Mr Mallon, who has been in custody since August 5.

He has been accused of ticket touting at the Olympics after 823 tickets - a large proportion of which were issued to the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) - were discovered in his hotel room on the day of the opening ceremony.

He has been held in Brazil's largest prison, Bangu, ever since.

Mr Hickey remains in custody.

Read more: Delaney's FAI and the THG tickets deal - Football body's debt stands at €40m after loans to build stadium

Read more: Pat Hickey family 'gravely concerned' - have requested meetings with ministers and Taoiseach Enda Kenny

Anne Marie James, a solicitor acting for Pat Hickey's family, yesterday told the Sunday Independent that Mr Hickey's wife and children are becoming increasingly worried about his physical and mental health.

James said she was speaking out on behalf of the family to counter what she called the "hatefest" against Mr Hickey.

She declined to discuss the emails released by Brazilian police between Mr Hickey and the company at the centre of the ticket investigation.

The Irish consul in Brazil visited Hickey twice in the days after his arrest, when he seemed in reasonable spirits.

"They have reported to Fred [his son] that he was well, that he was taking his medication. I think he had asked for books and paper and pens. They felt at that time that he was in a good mental place," Ms James said.

By last Thursday, he had deteriorated, according to Ms James, who sat in on a video conference between his Irish lawyers and his Rio lawyers.

"We had a video conference on Thursday and it was confirmed that he had stopped eating, that he had asked for mosquito repellent and certainly his mental state was not as chipper as it should be," she said.

According to the solicitor, he is "mentally distraught". His request for mosquito repellent, she said, "implies that he is open to being bitten by mosquitoes, which brings the risk of Malaria and the Zika virus. Then there is the risk of TB, which I know is endemic in many prisons where the prisoners are in close quarters."

The family is now concentrating on trying to put pressure on the Brazilian authorities to have Mr Hickey released on bail - and for a decision on a possible trial. They will meet with Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan tomorrow.

The family wants him to meet the Brazilian ambassador "to express their concern at how Irish citizens are being treated in Brazil".

"[Pat Hickey] is on a Vatican-based council, Peace in Sport, and we are going to reach out to the Vatican - that the local nuns and priests [in Brazil] might make contact with him," said Ms James. "I think the more contact that there is, the better."

As Kevin Mallon appeared to be on the verge of release from prison, new details emerged on the conditions surrounding his release.

He has been banned from accessing or attending premises connected to the Brazilian or International Olympic Committees for the period of the Paralympic Games, as well attending any of the stadiums or facilities where he would encounter the Games.

He has also been banned from attending the opening and closing ceremonies. He is prohibited from being absent from the district without the permission of the court.

He has also been given an 8pm curfew each night. His passport will also remain with the authorities.

A statement from Mr Mallon's company THG confirmed the pending release: "Following intensive efforts by our lawyers in Brazil, THG welcomes the news that our colleague Kevin Mallon is shortly to be released from preventative detention in Rio."

Sunday Independent

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