(ATR) European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey has hit back at accusations that he abused his position to help his son’s company win a contract for Rio 2016 ticket sales.
Patrick Hickey heads both the Olympic Council of Ireland and European Olympic Committees. (ATR)
Brazilian football legend Romario, who is now a Socialist member of the Brazilian congress, blasted Brazilian Olympic Committee president Carlos Nuzman Wednesday, alleging questionable plans for Rio 2016 ticket sales.
On his website, Romario suggests that Nuzman’s friend Hickey, an IOC Executive Board member and member of the IOC’s coordination commission for Rio 2016, had exploited his standing to help ensure the ticket sales contract for Ireland go to The Hospitality Group, a subsidiary of Marcus Evans Group that employs his son Stephan Hickey.
“I know for a fact that his son works for a subsidiary of the company that was awarded the right to sell tickets for the 2012 and 2014 Olympics by Mr. Hickey,” Romario wrote, according to investigative reporter Andrew Jennings’ "Transparency in Sport" website, which first published his comments in English on Tuesday.
“Everyone knows of my concern to ensure that all our citizens can afford tickets for the World Cup and the Olympics. So I am concerned to read reports that Mr. Hickey granted Ireland’s allocation of tickets for the Olympic Games in London to a private company that packaged them with hotel rooms and then sold to wealthy clients,” Romario stated.
Addressing the Rio 2016 ticketing sales first, Hickey described the comments as “purely speculative” in a statement sent to Around the Rings
“Rio 2016 has confirmed it will decide in late 2013 with each National Olympic Committee and its authorised ticket reseller (ATR) how to ensure efficient ticket sales abroad,” said Hickey, who has been president of the Olympic Council of Ireland since 1989.
“Therefore, a ticket strategy for Rio is not in place yet and all comments RE same are purely speculative.”
Romario. (Getty Images)
In his blog post, Romario also questions the role of The Hospitality Group in setting up the Olympic Council of Ireland’s ‘Irish Olympic House’ for the London Games.
In his statement sent to Around the Rings
, Hickey emphasizes that Ireland’s approved authorized ticket reseller for London was appointed “with the full approval of the Executive Committee of the Olympic Council of Ireland”.
He added: “In addition, I wish to state very clearly that the OCI is not under and has never been under investigation at any level concerning ticketing issues for the London Games.
“The Irish Hospitality House in London was a commercial project of the authorised ticket reseller and approved by the Executive Committee of the OCI.”
Dismissing allegations that he and the OCI favored his son’s company in awarding the contract, Hickey explained: “The promoters were appointed six months before they headhunted Stephan Hickey from his management position at the O2 Arena, Canary Wharf, London.
“Stephan is an event management professional who has worked in London for fifteen years, and will leave his position when his contract is completed at the end of this year.
“His appointment was approved by the Executive Committee of the OCI and Stephan had no involvement whatsoever with ticketing.”
Amid insinuations that Hickey was using his IOC role in Brazil to generate business opportunities to enrich himself and his family, the 67-year-old sought to put some distance between himself and Rio 2016
“I am only one member of the 17-member IOC Co-Ordination Commission for the Rio Games 2016, and I have no functional, contractual or administrative relationship with Rio 2016. I will be visiting Rio solely in my role as a commission member,” he concluded his statement.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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