August 24, 2006 Sean Burns
By Christine Paluf
The FIFA official that was caught selling 12 tickets at three times their face value has quit. A member of the executive committee of the world governing body, Ismail Bjamjee resigned his post after being disgraced for his actions, according to reports from officials in Botswana.
The tickets were sold to England supporters before the group match with Trinity and Tobago in Germany. He was expelled from the tournament by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, sent home because of his reselling the tickets. Then last weekend he was expelled from the Botswana Football Association (BFA) after a major discussion by the board. The heated debate produced a vote of 42 to 40.
He was due to leave his post on FIFA’s executive committee at the end of the year anyway, as he did not win the latest election, though he was a member since 1998. He resigned as an honorary member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) executive committee as well. Bjamjee also plans in October to give up his presidency of the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations.
After the efforts he has made over the years to raise football standards in southern Africa, it’s no surprise that he was penalized so heavily. The 24-man FIFA committee is regarded as one of the most powerful bodies in international sports, and serves as a ‘cabinet’ for the running of world football.
In his statement, Bhamjee apologized for reselling the tickets for 300 euros each, and added: “I deeply regret this incorrect act and apologise to FIFA for violating the relevant terms and conditions governing the sale of tickets for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.”
He claimed that his actions were to help some desperate fans that he met at a hotel. Which sound like a valiant and selfless act, however making 200 euros off of each of the 12 tickets helped his own pocketbook more than a philanthropic effort.
Bjamjee is not the first official to profit from the resale of tickets to a major event. In 2005, Final Four coaches were caught for the same thing. Coaches are given gratis tickets, but forbidden to resell. If caught they can be banned from buying tickets from the National Association of Basketball Coaches for five years.
The association has policies in place that are meant to prevent the resale of these tickets, like naming one person that will be allowed to pick them up during a designated window before the event.
Mike Tice, Minnesota head coach was reprimanded and fined for a long-running reselling operation of Super Bowl tickets.
As long as there is money to be made from the practice, it will continue to prevail, and with respected leaders showing the way, what more can be expected of players and fans.