A BRITISH-born executive from the official World Cup corporate hospitality provider has been arrested as part of an investigation into the illegal resale of tickets.

Ray Whelan, a director of Match Hospitality, was arrested yesterday at the luxury Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, where top Fifa officials are staying during the Brazil tournament.

Eleven other people have already been arrested and 131 tickets seized, some 70 of which are said to have originated from the corporate hospitality industry.

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They are accused of the illegal resale of tickets, including some originally earmarked for players. It is estimated the gang could have earned up to £52million per tournament over the past four World Cups. Inspector Fabio Barucke said the criminals had been making £120,000 profit per game by re-selling tickets on the black market.

The gang are thought to be charging more than £4,200 per ticket for Sunday's final at the Maracana stadium in Rio.

Match Hospitality, which is based in Cheshire, said it was "fully assisting the police." A spokesman added: "It is important to highlight that so far no Match Hospitality staff member has been implicated with anything."

Mr Whelan was being held in custody overnight.