RIO DE JANEIRO - A FIFA member is the source of thousands of illegal ticket sales at the World Cup, a Brazilian police chief says.
Police commissioner Fabio Barucke said "someone from FIFA" and "an intermediary from Match Hospitality", FIFA's ticket agency, channelled the millions of dollars worth of tickets onto the black market.
The FIFA official, who was not identified, is believed to be staying at the Copacabana Palace hotel, Barucke told reporters. The Copacabana Palace is one of the luxury Rio de Janeiro hotels being used by the FIFA hierarchy.
Police made 11 arrests on Tuesday of people accused of selling tickets that may have been obtained through a contact at world football's governing body.
A police investigation, dubbed Operation Jules Rimet after the former French FIFA president, was launched without FIFA's knowledge, the police chief said.
However, following the arrests "we are now calling for FIFA's assistance to help us identify this FIFA person, a foreigner staying in the Copacabana Palace hotel," Barucke said.
Initially, police thought that Mohamadou Lamine Fofana, a Franco-Algerian national based in Dubai, was the source of the trafficking, Barucke said.
"But after his arrest we realised there was someone above him from FIFA with an intermediary at Match Hospitality," he added.
"We want to identify the last link in the chain, from the ticket touts at the stadiums, right through to those who are above Lamine Fofona and who passed the tickets on to him," said Barucke.
He added: "We have indications that at least one person from FIFA passed on tickets" to Match Hospitality.
Brazilian authorities said on Wednesday they suspected members of the Brazilian, Argentine and Spanish football federations were involved in illegally selling tickets normally reserved for sponsors, football federations, players and non-government organisations.
Marcos Kac, the Rio de Janeiro investigating magistrate in charge of the inquiry said on Wednesday that at least 1,000 tickets per game were involved with a basic price of 1,000 euros.
On Wednesday, FIFA's marketing director Thierry Weil called illegal ticket sales "a scourge" and said in a statement that the world body and its experts "have consistently been providing information to Brazilian authorities to assist them in their enforcement of existing legislation and to prosecute those violating the law.
"The fact that Brazil has a long-standing law against ticket scalping has been helpful," he added.
"FIFA is waiting on detailed information from the local authorities in order to be able to validate the tickets seized, identify their origins and take appropriate action together with the local authorities," Weil said.