FIFA reaffirms faith in ticketing partner

Despite the Match Hospitality ticketing scandal still casting a cloud over the end of the World Cup, world football’s governing body remains confident in its partnership with the firm’s parent company.

Match Services AG is a wholly owned subsidiary of Byrom plc, a FIFA service provider since 1994.

Police in Rio de Janeiro labelled Match CEO Ray Whelan a fugitive this week after being unable to re-arrest him over ticketing touting allegations, as part of an ongoing investigation.

While not commenting on Whelan specifically, FIFA did reaffirm its faith in Byrom plc and its dealings in a statement on Saturday.

“MATCH Hospitality has returned to FIFA in excess of 150,000 tickets which were originally planned to be comprised in hospitality packages but remained unsold. FIFA has made these returned tickets available for sale predominantly to members of the general public,” said the statement.

“Based on the experience gained throughout almost 30 years of collaboration with Byrom plc, FIFA trusts in the loyal and respectable business behaviour of Byrom plc, its staff and principals and is confident that an assessment of all facts and underlying business concepts will exonerate the staff and principals of Byrom plc.

“FIFA is fully committed to fight any form of ticket touting activity in connection with the FIFA World Cup in order to ensure a fair allocation and pricing of tickets to the benefit of football fans around the world.”

Golden Ball Award Nominees

Germany could win the World Cup for a fourth time today and they stand a good chance of claiming the 2014 FIFA Golden Ball after four of their players made the ten-man shortlist.

Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Thomas Muller and captain Philipp Lahm are all nominated for the prize which is awarded to the World Cup’s best player. They’re joined by three of their final opponents – Lionel Messi, Javier Mascherano and Angel Di Maria.

Neymar is the only Brazilian to make the list, with fellow South American James Rodriguez joining him. The list is completed by Dutch forward Arjen Robben. Robben’s teammate Memphis Depay is in the running for young player of the tournament, alongside French duo Paul Pogba and Raphael Varane.

Germany’s Manuel Neuer, Argentina’s Sergio Romero Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas will all battle it out for the Golden Glove award given to the tournament’s best ‘keeper.

Referee for Final

The referee for the final at the Maracana in Rio on Sunday will be Italian Nicola Rizzoli. It will be the third time this tournament that Rizzoli has officiated a game involving Argentina.

In the match against Belgium, manager Marc Wilmots accused him of favouring Messi and the South Americans.

However, FIFA’s head of referees, Massimo Busacca, dismissed Wilmots’ claims saying “quality” was the reason for choosing Rizzoli. Rizzoli will be assisted by compatriots Renato Faverani and Andrea Stefani and the fourth official will be Carlos Vera from Ecuador.

Music Stars Prepare

Shakira and her fellow music stars at a media briefing before the final (INSIDER)

for Finale

Ahead of the final, there will be a chance for Brazilians to enjoy one last dance at the closing ceremony featuring Shakira, Wyclef Jean, Carlos Santana and others.

The musicians will perform a rendition of “Dar Um Jeito”, the official song of the World Cup.

Colombian singer Shakira will be making her third appearance at a World Cup having performed at Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010.

“I’m very grateful to the World Cup,” she said in a media briefing. “Were it not for my performance at the 2010 tournament, I wouldn’t have met the love of my life [Barcelona defender Pique].”

Haiti rapper Wyclef predicted a German win in the final, but also took the time to “shout-out” to the people in the favelas, and believed the benefits of the World Cup would reach the deprived areas in Brazil.

He said “I think this is a sign, bear in mind in two years the Olympics is going to come here to Rio – so I trust that justice will be done. When it comes to reaching out to the people, football is one of the very interesting means to do that.”

By Christian Radnedge in Rio

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