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FIFA VP's son denies ticket scalping claim

The Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- The son of FIFA senior vice president Julio Grondona has denied claims he illegally sold a World Cup ticket for profit.

Brazilian police are investigating a ticket scalping operation and have made 11 arrests this week, bringing the issue to public attention.

Humberto Grondona went on Argentine TV channel TyC to deny speculation he had re-sold a ticket at an inflated price, saying he gave a friend the $220 ticket for the Argentina-Switzerland match last Tuesday.

''You think with how much I care about my family name I would do such a stupid thing?'' Grondona said in a telephone interview broadcast late Thursday.

A photograph of the ticket issued to ''Humberto Mario Grondona'' was posted on the Twitter site of journalist Andres Burgo.

Burgo wrote that a friend paid double the original price to see the round-of-16 match in Sao Paulo, which Argentina won to advance to the quarterfinals.

Rio de Janeiro police arrested an Algerian man and 10 Brazilians this week suspected of running a scalping operation, and said the suspected source of tickets is a person staying at the Copacabana Palace Hotel used by senior FIFA officials.

FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said football's governing body was analyzing a police report on the case before confirming details or taking action.

Reselling tickets at more than face value is illegal in Brazil, and FIFA warned staff and football officials before the tournament to be responsible for tickets issued in their names.

''Everyone who violated the regulations will be sanctioned,'' Fischer said Friday, though she declined to comment on allegations or the ongoing police investigation in Rio. ''Any ticket can be traced back, every ticket is personalized.''

Grondona is an official in the Argentina football federation where his father has been president for 35 years. Julio Grondona is chairman of FIFA's influential finance committee and is No. 2 on FIFA's executive committee to President Sepp Blatter.

Asked if his friend sold on the ticket, Humberto Grondona said he was ''sure my friend wouldn't do that.''

''I find it very odd that this ticket has appeared,'' he told the TV interviewer.

Grondona served on the FIFA technical study group at the 2010 World Cup, analyzing tactical trends in South Africa.

''The only tickets that bear my name are the tickets I got from FIFA which I'm entitled to as an instructor,'' he said Thursday.

Earlier in the tournament, FIFA marketing director Thierry Weil said any ticket holder caught scalping would have the rest of their entitlement canceled, and the tickets re-sold to the public.

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