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Dublin: 5 °C Monday 9 December, 2019
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Romario declares himself satisfied with action on what he terms the 'ticket mafia'

Former OCI president Pat Hickey, who has been at the notorious Bangu prison in Rio since Thursday, may not now face a judge until later in the week.

Senator Romario Faria.
Senator Romario Faria.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

Updated 9.21pm

With reporting by Sinéad O’Carroll in Rio

OFFICIALS FROM THE Irish consulate in Rio de Janeiro were expected to visit the former president of the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) Pat Hickey in prison this afternoon.

Hickey, who has temporarily stepped down as president of the OCI, faces separate charges of facilitating ticket touting, setting up a cartel, and illicit marketing following the seizure of almost 800 tickets in Rio that had been earmarked for the OCI.

He has been held at the notorious Bangu prison in Rio since last Thursday after being arrested the previous morning.

He was expected to be brought before a judge tomorrow, but sources in Rio suggest his court appearance may not take place until later this week.

Campaigners against ticket-touting in Brazil have welcomed the police action on the ticketing affair.

PAT HICKEY IRISH OLYMPICS COUNCIL Pat Hickey Source: RollingNews.ie

Brazilian MP Romario – a decorated footballer who won the 1994 World Cup with the national team – had previously raised concerns about the contract for ticket sales for Ireland for the London Olympic Games in 2012.

“Romario has no comments on this case,” a spokesman for the Socialist MP said in a statement this evening.

In 2012, he alerted the government on the activities of the ticket mafia and on his preoccupation they would also act during Rio 2016.He is satisfied with the police action that took place.

Four years ago, Romario wrote a lengthy blog post concerning Pat Hickey and the OCI, culminating with the line: “Here in Brazil will tickets for the Games be luxurious goods, and the middle-class, the poor, can only attend competitions on TV?”

Brazil Del Nero Senator Romario Faria, a former Brazil and Barcelona soccer star. Source: AP/Press Association Images

It has since emerged that families of Irish Olympians were forced to go abroad to get tickets to see their loved ones compete at the Rio games because the firm engaged by the OCI was “completely unprepared and incapable”.

This evening the Department of Foreign Affairs told TheJournal.ie that it is “currently providing ongoing consular assistance to four Irish citizens in Brazil”. RTÉ reports that consular staff were due to visit Hickey today.

In addition to reportedly meeting with Hickey today, the consulate is understood to be providing assistance to the other three members of the OCI who have had their passports seized.

They are: Team Ireland Chef de Mission Kevin Kilty, Dermot Henihan and OCI chief executive Stephen Martin.

RTÉ reports that Kilty, Henihan and Martin are due to give depositions to the police tomorrow morning.

A Brazilian judge also sanctioned the seizure of three other passports – those of FAI chief executive John Delaney, Linda O’Reilly, and interim president Willie O’Brien.

The OCI’s executive committee has held its first meeting in Dublin since the arrest.

Subsequent to that meeting, the OCI announced that it would appoint an international accountancy firm to conduct an independent review of the ticketing arrangements in Rio.

A “three-person crisis management subcommittee” has been established by the Council to lead its response to the scandal.

This group comprises Sarah Keane (Swim Ireland), Prof Ciaran O’Cathain (Athletics Ireland) and Robert Norwood (Snowsports Association of Ireland).

- Additional reporting Darragh Peter Murphy and Aoife Barry

Read: Rio 2016: How our athletes salvaged some pride in an Irish Olympics of scandal

Read: More than 3,000 holidaymakers claiming refund following collapse of Lowcostholidays

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