Senator Romario tipped off authorities to alleged ticket touting

Latest: Former Brazil World Cup winner turned Senator Romario has stated he tipped off authorities to the alleged ticket touting operation.

Senator Romario tipped off authorities to alleged ticket touting

Update 8.10pm: Former Brazil World Cup winner turned Senator Romario has stated he tipped off authorities to the alleged ticket touting operation, writes Daniel McConnell and Matt Sandy.

This evening, Romario has said he is backing a major fraud investigation into Pat Hickey, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) and other people related to the scandal.

In a statement, the former Barcelona and Brazil star said he alerted the government to the "activities of the ticket mafia".

"I told them it was my belief that they would also act during Rio 2016. I am satisfied with the police action that has taken place,” the statement added.

Both Irishmen being held in prison in Rio de Janeiro will petition the courts to be released as the Olympic touting scandal enters its third week.

Lawyers for Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) boss Patrick Hickey, 71, and Kevin James Mallon, 36, an executive of ticketing firm THG Sports, will request they will be able to “respond at liberty’ to the criminal charges they are facing.

Franklin Gomes, a São Paulo based lawyer for Mallon, said: “We are putting all our efforts into getting him released from prison immediately.”

His law firm was petitioning a special Olympic court in Rio, plus the Superior Court of Justice and the Supreme Court, both in Brasilia, he said.

“I hope to see movement in this case by Wednesday,” he said. “The crimes of which he is accused are very low level, they are not serious. Normally the result is a fine.”

Update 6.22pm: Staff at the Irish consulate in Rio were due to visit Mr Hickey in Bangu prison today.

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to OCI staff who have had their passports seized.

Update - 1.35pm Basketball Ireland CEO Bernard O'Byrne has said that OCI President Pat Hickey will "live by the sword and die by the sword".

Bernard O'Byrne.
Bernard O'Byrne.

O'Byrne says that while Hickey is a success story in Irish sport, he's not surprised that there are few who have sympathy for him.

He told Newstalk's Pat Kenny Show that the lack of public support for Mr Hickey did not come as a shock.

He said: "He's a dogmatic, arrogant man while at the same time he's a doer, he gets things done. His rise has been very substantial, and probably one of the most successful Irish sports administrators ever.

"That doesn't make him a warm person or a liked person, so no I'm not surprised there isn't a queue forming."

Earlier: The Olympic Council of Ireland has put together a "crisis management" team to investigate the Rio ticket scandal.

The three-man group will include Sarah Keane of Swim Ireland, Prof. Ciaran O'Cathain of Athletics Ireland and Robert Norwood from the Snowsports Association.

A statement has been released by the OCI overnight following a marathon five-hour meeting by its Executive Committee.

In it, the Olympic Council says it will hire an international accountancy firm to conduct an independent review of ticketing arrangements.

Its report will then be given to the judge chairing the State inquiry into the controversy.

Brazilian police have confiscated the passports of three more Irish Olympic officials and are pursuing three others, including FAI chief executive John Delaney and Pat Hickey’s successor Willie O’Brien.

The three Olympic Council of Ireland officials have had their passports, phones and laptops seized by Brazilian police.

Rio police said Ireland team leader Kevin Kilty, chief executive Stephen Martin and secretary general Dermot Henihan, are accused of illegally selling Olympic tickets.

No arrests have been made but the officials have agreed to go to police stations for questioning.

There is a warrant out for a further three passports belonging to OCI executives.

The president of the OCI Pat Hickey is due to appear before a judge tomorrow.

He could be facing up to seven years in jail if found guilty of ticket touting.

Hickey, 71, was detained at a hotel in the Barra da Tijuca area on Wednesday and later taken to Samaritano hospital with chest pain before he underwent cardiac tests.

After being discharged he was taken to a police station for questioning in connection with the investigation. He has stepped aside from his role as president of the OCI.

Hickey has been formally accused under Brazilian law of ticket touting, running a cartel and illicit marketing.

This is a stage in the legal process that is not equivalent to being charged in British or Irish law but is a preliminary step in that direction. He has denied any wrongdoing.

He has been moved to a high security remand prison at Rio's Gericino Penitentiary Complex, known as Bangu Prison and an application against his detention was denied by a judge, according to police in Rio.

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