Colombian Football Federation (FCF) president Ramon Jesurun, a leading figure in South American football, is being investigated for alleged embezzlement and resale of tickets for Fifa World Cup qualifying matches, according to the Superintendency of Industry and Commerce (SIC).
Jesurun, who is a member of the ruling Fifa Council of world football’s governing body and vice-president of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol), is being investigated by the government’s regulatory body, along with a number of other officials.
The Associated Press news agency said Jesurun is being probed along with his predecessor as FCF president, Luis Bedoya, executive Alvaro Gonzalez Alzate and former Colombian league chairman Jorge Perdomo.
Authorities are also investigating Rodrigo Rendon Cano, owner of the Real Cartagena club; his son Rodrigo Rendon Ruiz, plus ticketing companies Ticketshop and TicketYa.com. Investigators say Rendon Cano allegedly received privileged information through the FCF to attract partners and receive exclusive access to tickets.
The investigation involves eight of the nine home South American qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup played by the national team. Authorities believe 42,221 tickets were illegally embezzled and resold, some at mark ups of up to 350 per cent over face value.
Proceeds from the criminal operation are estimated to be about $4.5m (€3.8m). “The massive embezzlement of tickets and its resale were only possible because of actions attributed to the federation,” trade investigator Felipe Robledo said. “There were deliberate actions and deliberate omissions of the federation and its executives.”
In a statement, the FCF said the federation and its staff “will show their correctness, as they are the main victims and whistleblowers of such activities.”
The federation added: “From the Colombian Football Federation, we see with concern that the dynamics related to the resale of (tickets) is not an exclusive phenomenon of football, but affects all industries both nationally and internationally, which is why our commitment will be to face this problem.”
Commenting on the probe, Jesurun said, according to Colombian newspaper El Tiempo: “They have not condemned anything or anyone. My colleagues only opened an investigation and with our lawyers we will show that we have nothing to do with the anomaly of the sale of the tickets.”