It’s on your scalp

Fifa gave the assurance this week that all its executive committee members have signed an ethical code barring the scalping of 2010 World Cup tickets by its own officials.

But doubts persist about black-market activity — and specifically the potential sale of R140 nationality-specific tickets by South Africans to tourists.

With only about 700 000 of the almost three million tickets available to fans — the rest will be divvied up between national football associations, sponsors and VIPs — the danger of scalping appears to lie closer to Fifa’s doorstep.

In Durban this week 2010 local organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan conceded that past World Cups were plagued by the selling-on of tickets by Fifa officials and their connections.

A recent example was Botswana’s Ismail Bhamjee, a Fifa executive committee member, who admitted selling 12 tickets at three times the original price at the World Cup in Germany.

Jordaan insisted Fifa’s checks had been ”strengthened” by the adoption, in September 2006, of a revised code of ethics for officials and the formation of an ethics committee.

Rumours had circulated that some Fifa executive committee members had not signed the code, but local spokesperson Delia Fischer told to the Mail & Guardian that all had done so.

Jordaan said it was imperative that ticket applications required the names and identity numbers of specific users, given the threats of terrorism and hooliganism: ”It’s critically important we know who has what ticket for what seat and we’ve asked Fifa to act harshly,” he said.

But the organisation has long been bedevilled by allegations of corruption, lack of transparency and the protection of those within the ”Fifa family”.

An Ernst & Young report during the World Cup in Germany found hundreds of tickets linked to Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (Concacaf) president Jack Warner were transferred or resold in breach of Fifa’s ticketing conditions.

Warner, considered Fifa president Sepp Blatter’s strongman, consistently delivers Concacaf’s 35-member voting bloc to the president in elections. Warner was absolved of any wrongdoing, while his son, Daryan, was fined.

Another Ernst & Young audit report found Warner and his family benefited to the tune of almost $1-million when the family-owned Simpaul Travel Services monopolised the sale of tickets allocated to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.

Fifa’s ethics committee, set up after these incidents and chaired by former Olympian Lord Sebastian Coe, was not allowed to investigate retrospectively.

Coe resigned last week, ostensibly to avoid a conflict of interest after agreeing to join England’s 2018 World Cup bid board as a non-executive director.

The British Telegraph newspaper described the ethics committee, seen as the most toothless of Fifa’s three judicial committees, as a ”fig leaf against the torrent of misconduct allegations against Fifa members”.

A BBC Panorama investigation found the committee was barred from investigating the fallout of a sponsorship court battle between MasterCard and Visa in 2006-07.

After the judge criticised several officials, Fifa eventually paid out $90-million to terminate its relationship with MasterCard and took on Visa as its official 2010 partner.

Read the M&G’s 2010 ticket guide

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Niren Tolsi
Niren Tolsi is a freelance journalist whose interests include social justice, citizen mobilisation and state violence, protest, the Constitution and Constitutional Court, football and Test cricket.

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