India's Reliance looking into black market for World Cup tickets

MUMBAI - India's largest private company Reliance Industries said Tuesday it was investigating how costly World Cup tickets it had bought ended up on the Brazilian black market.

Match Hospitality, a FIFA partner firm which sells deluxe packages that include private suites at stadiums and gourmet catering, said 59 tickets bearing Reliance's name were found.

"We at Reliance always comply with all rules and regulations and are unaware of any such incident. We are investigating the same," the firm said in a statement to AFP.

Reliance Industries, controlled by India's richest man Mukesh Ambani, stated it had bought the tickets via another company which works with FIFA and their sponsors.

Reliance identified the company through which it had bought the tickets as Octagon but told AFP it was unable to divulge further details about them, such as where they were located.

"We have appointed them (Octagon) as our agents to buy some hospitality packages. They have been handling the tickets and the packages," Reliance said.

Reliance had bought a total of 304 packages for 19 matches worth $1.2 million, including access to a private suite for all games in Rio, Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, Match Hospitality said.

Rio de Janeiro police arrested Ray Whelan, a director with Match Hospitality, on Monday and accused him of leading a network that illegally sold tickets.

Police say the international scalping syndicate sold thousands of tickets worth millions of dollars, going back to the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.

The scandal is the latest to hit FIFA, which is already battling allegations members accepted bribes from a Qatari football official to secure support for the emirate's campaign to secure the 2022 World Cup.