Brazilian police want to speak to FAI’s Delaney

Football Association of Ireland (FAI) chief executive John Delaney last night became embroiled in the Olympics ticket-touting scandal after Brazilian police said they want to speak to him.

The Tipperary-born official, who is second vice-president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI), was named in court documents, as it emerged the OCI’s “temporarily” stepped aside president Pat Hickey will appear in court tomorrow.

It was confirmed last night that OCI chief executive Stephen Martin and executive board members Dermot Henihan and Kevin Kilty have had their passports seized by Brazilian police and been told to await questioning in Rio tomorrow.

However, the news that police also want to speak to Mr Delaney and Mr Hickey’s temporary replacement Willie O’Brien, in addition to Mr Hickey’s personal assistant Linda O’Reilly, added to the storm hitting the OCI.

Mr Delaney is considered a controversial figure in Irish football due to his high salary and a perceived lack of investment in the local game.

Mr Hickey has been rumoured to favour Mr Delaney as his OCI successor.

Meanwhile, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach confirmed yesterday that Mr Hickey is due to appear in a Rio court tomorrow in relation to the ticket touting controversy. He is facing charges of facilitating ticket touting, illicit or ambush marketing, and involvement in a cartel.

In a statement, Mr Hickey’s Rio-based lawyer Arthur Lavigne said Mr Hickey’s arrest last week was “under mere assumptions” and “has no legal support”.

The OCI executive committee met last night at its Dublin headquarters amid calls from Olympic medal winner and Fine Gael senator Eamon Coghlan for a clear-out of senior officials.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian police commissioner in charge of the investigation has said he wants Irish authorities to help his force to examine the bank records of individuals central to the case. Ricardo Barboza de Souza, head of Rio’s Civil Police Fraud Unit, was reported yesterday to have told a Sunday newspaper: “We are dealing with accounts out of Brazil, so we are going to need co-operation from various countries and people outside Brazil.”

Brazilian senator and former World Cup-winning footballer Romario also confirmed at the weekend that he raised concerns about ticket touting in the Olympics more than four years ago.

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