MOC secretary general clarifies meeting with undercover reporters

The secretary general of the Maltese Olympic Committee Joe Cassar denies involvement in alleged illegal resale of Olympic Games tickets.

MOC president Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco (left) with Joe Cassar.
MOC president Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco (left) with Joe Cassar.

The secretary general of the Maltese Olympic Committee (MOC) Joe Cassar has denied any wrongdoing after The Sunday Times of London reported abuse in the sale of Olympic Games tickets.

Following a two-month undercover investigation, which also involved the secret filming of a meeting held between the undercover journalists and MOC president Judge Lino Farrugia Sacco and Joe Cassar, the British newspaper alleged that Olympic officials and agents have been offering tickets to the London Games on the black market.

This prompted an emergency meeting and the launch of an investigation by the International Olympic Committee.

In a statement through his lawyers sent to all media, Cassar said that he immediately informed the 'representatives' - in reality undercover journalists - that the MOC didn't have any tickets for the upcoming Olympic games in London.

Cassar however said that he referred them to Marcus Evans, the official Authorised Ticket Reseller (ATR) for Malta.

"[Cassar] accepted to help the representatives by passing on any specific request to other ATR's so as to try and obtain the required tickets, without infringing IOC rules," Cassar's lawyers Adrian Camilleri and Edward Zammit Lewis said.

"Our client was referring to specific tickets and not any amount of tickets to be sold in an illegal manner as is being implied by sectors of the media."

Cassar said the two 'representatives' said they were ready to pay £60,000 to act as the official ATR for the Winter Olympic Games to held in Sochi.

"The MOC had already received similar offers, of much lesser amounts, in this regard and the offer in question was interesting to the MOC. The money would be entirely re-invested for the benefit of sports in Malta."

Since he didn't have the relative experience in the formalities and rules involved to act as ATR, Cassar suggested that they contact advisors or experts to help them on the matter.

On mark-ups, Cassar said there would be a threshold of 20% as set by official conditions. When asked whether the prices of the ATR's are checked on, Cassar said that if the prices are specifically advertised then the prices would be checkable. To his knowledge, there would also be the possibility of package deals whether the specific price ticket would be incorporated in the whole package.

"Our client in no way ever suggested to these representative to effect mark ups which are higher than the thresholds imposed by the IOC," the lawyers said.

On "subtle marketing" Cassar clarified that he was "referring to marketing techniques the ATR could use to sell tickets without infringing the rules and regulations of the IOC".

He insisted that ATR's are vetted, screened and recognized by the International Olympic Committee and the National Olympic Committee have every right to chose their ATR and receive compensation for their appointment.

After the meeting, Cassar sent all the official contracts issued by the IOC and the Organising Committee which an ATR would have to sign. In the email, Cassar also specifically requested to know who the ultimate investor would be so that MOC could "run a check on him and his company".

In the letter, the lawyers also said that Cassar will not be attending any TV programmes to discuss the matter and shall be communicating through his lawyers when necessary.

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