RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian football great Romario, now a socialist lawmaker, on Wednesday called for a probe of his country's Olympic committee over allegedly questionable sales for Rio's summer Games in 2016.
The former FC Barcelona striker and 1994 World Cup winner pointed the finger at Carlos Nuzman, president of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (COB), and demanded an audit of its accounts and the source of public funds it is given.
He also insinuated that Patrick Hickey, a friend of Nuzman and member of the executive board of the International Olympic Committee, was abusing his post to ensure the contract for ticket sales for Ireland go to a subsidiary of a firm that employs his son, Stephen Hickey.
The elder Hickey is president of the Olympic Council of Ireland and Romario pressed Nuzman to provide an explanation "before the Brazilian parliament and people".
"I learnt from reliable sources that his (Hickey's) son works for a subsidiary of the firm which won, thanks to Hickey, the right to sell tickets for the 2016 (summer) Olympics," the former star said in charges posted on his official website.
"Everybody knows my determination to ensure that all citizens have access to (2014) World Cup games and to the (2016) summer Olympics. That is why I am worried," he added.
Romario wants the Rio Olympic tickets to be accessible to all as is the case for World Cup tickets, which are sold at discount prices for the elderly, students and the poor.
In a statement issued to the press Wednesday, the Rio 2016 committee said it was "in the initial phase of drawing up an operational ticket sale plan."
"Rio 2016 will in late 2013 call for bids to choose the firm which will provide the ticket sale system. For international sales, Rio 2016 will decide with each national Olympic committee and its authorized dealer how to ensure efficient ticket sales abroad," it added.
Romario also expressed concern that Nuzman might be re-elected as COB chief, a post he has held for 17 years, as he is the only candidate.
Last week, the footballer turned lawmaker blamed Nuzman for the Olympic scandal in which 10 Brazilians made unauthorized downloads of files belonging to organizers of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »