Olympic committee silent on judge’s comment
The International Olympic Committee would not comment on Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco’s statement that Malta had done “nothing wrong” in the way it sold its share of Olympic Games tickets.
The IOC is probing allegations made by The Sunday Times of London, following a two-month undercover investigation. The British weekly said it found several national Olympic committees willing to break the IOC rules.
The Times asked the IOC a number of questions, including whether Malta had been cleared and whether it was acceptable for the Maltese tickets to be sold elsewhere in the EU, something Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco, president of the Malta Olympic Committee, had said the IOC “accepted”.
An IOC spokesman replied: “We cannot comment on specifics while the inquiry is ongoing. It is the work of the ethics commission to review all documentation and make the appropriate recommendations to the executive board.”
In the statement announcing the inquiry, the IOC pointed out that breaking the rules meant “offering to buy or sell tickets outside their territory, sell tickets at inflated prices, or sell tickets to unauthorised resellers”.
When it was pointed out that Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco is a serving judge, the spokesman added: “We appreciate your questions. However, at this point of time, we are not able to give you further details.”
Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco is being investigated by the Commission for the Administration of Justice following a request by Justice Minister Chris Said. The judge was secretly filmed sitting near MOC general secretary Joe Cassar, who explained tickets allocated to Malta could be sold in England, France or Germany as long as no publicity was made.
Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco noted “Malta is in the EU”. Mr Cassar said a mark-up on the price of tickets could not exceed 20 per cent but higher profits could be “camouflaged” by putting the tickets within certain packages.
At one point in the secretly filmed conversation, Mr Justice Farrugia Sacco is heard saying: “Quite frankly, we are interested just in our needs because we realise that if a person is willing to pay you that much money that person wants to make a profit. Obviously, he’s doing it in order to make a mark-up and get his money back, plus a profit, so, obviously, you’ve got to be reasonable and not demand too much.”
The judge has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said that he had spoken to the IOC following the launch of its global investigation and was assured Malta had done “nothing wrong”.
Malta’s official ticketing agent for the London Olympics, THG Sports Division (the Marcus Evans Group), said it had received an allocation of 304 tickets for Malta, which it marketed and sold according to the IOC rules and EU law.
“Tickets remain available for sale at many events, which indicates the public has not been unfairly treated or disadvantaged as, otherwise, everything would have sold out and, clearly, there are many tickets available from the Maltese allocation.”
The company pointed out that it could only “actively market and sell in Malta. But, under EU law, if a resident outside Malta requests tickets then it is bound by EU law to respond to that request.
“However, any request for tickets outside the EU must be denied. THG Sports Division have closely followed these rules.”
It added that the sale of tickets also strictly stuck to the pricing conditions.