STRANGE but true: every one of the World Cup’s 3m tickets comes via a modest two-storey office building on a business park in Cheadle Royal, south Manchester – some through the front door, others through the back door and into the black market.
The proprietors, Mexican brothers Jaime and Enrique Byrom, chums of disgraced bribe-taker and former Fifa president Joao Havelange, who have enjoyed exclusive World Cup ticket concessions for many years, are now guaranteed them for another decade under their latest deal with Sepp Blatter and his scrupulously honest executive committee. Whether the tournament is staged in Qatar, North America or Australia, the boys in Cheadle are certain winners.
Over the years the Byrom brothers have done some excellent business with the stupendously corrupt former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner from Trinidad. In 2006 they agreed to let him have more than 5,000 tickets to be resold into the rackets. They were caught by auditor Ernst & Young; but Fifa’s leaders cleared Warner, told his son and business partner Daryan (now a co-operating witness with the FBI) not to do it again, and tickled the Byrom wrists.
Unabashed by the 2006 scandal, four years later the brothers again agreed to supply Warner with tickets for him to resell into the black market. Blatter could not claim ignorance, since email correspondence with Warner was copied to Fifa and a company called Infront – a sports marketing outfit run by Blatter’s nephew Philippe, who gets big chunks of World Cup TV rights to resell. These are awarded by uncle Sepp and his Fifa colleagues.
A loan from Uncle Sepp
Meanwhile, the Byroms have granted Infront a 5 percent stake in their subsidiary company Match, which has 450,000 tickets to resell to corporate hospitality clients in VIP boxes. These include 32,000 for Brazil games and another 12,000 for the final.
Not much World Cup business eludes the brothers: Blatter also gives them the business of supplying accommodation to fans. Having lost $50m in South Africa in 2010 as fans stayed home, they have to make big profits in Brazil. Here again Uncle Sepp is helping.
Two years ago Blatter Snr gave the company jointly owned by the Byroms and his nephew a loan of £6,210,128 from Fifa “to fund the obligation for Match Services AG to provide accommodation services for the 2014 Fifa World Cup Brazil”. Better still, the loan is interest-free! Oddly, however, this sweetheart deal has still not been reported in Fifa’s accounts. Shome oversight, shurely?