Ewan MacKenna sheds light on the extraordinary turn of events regarding Pat Hickey

Off The Ball were also joined by Tariq Panja of Bloomberg to discuss what happened in Rio

Pat Hickey

Pat Hickey, President of the Olympic Council of Ireland signs the Olympic Truce wall. Picture by: Martin Rickett / PA Archive/Press Association Images

In a significant turn of events on Wednesday morning, long-time former Olympic Council of Ireland president Pat Hickey was arrested as part of an investigation into alleged ticket touting.

On a special edition of Newstalk's Off The Ball tonight, Ger Gilroy was joined by Brazil-based Irish journalist Ewan MacKenna and Bloomberg's Tariq Panja to shed light on today's events as well as what is likely to follow in the hours, days and weeks ahead.

"A lot of people back home might be shocked at this and the way it's carried out is quite shocking. It's El Chapo meets Craggy Island almost," said MacKenna on the extraordinary and public nature of the turn of events throughout today.

"But in terms of the actual stuff going on in terms of the OCI, in terms of the IOC, in terms of the Olympic movement, I don't think anybody should be really taken aback by anything that goes on behind the scenes.

"I mean, what we've seen here at these Olympics, even more so than others - which is quite something - is that this whole idea of Olympic spirit and Olympic values, it's absolutely nonsense. It's big business masquerading as sport, it's profiteering masquerading as heroism on the track and in the field. So a lot of stuff has been going down behind the scenes for a long time."


Senator Romario Faria, a former Barcelona soccer star, attends a parliamentary commission investigating allegations of corruption in the Brazilian football confederation (CBF), at the Senate in Brasilia, Brazil, Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Picture by: Eraldo Peres / AP/Press Association Images

MacKenna also touched on Brazilian senator and former international football star Romario who had previously raised concerns regarding ticketing. 

"He was naming Pat Hickey and the OCI. He wanted them back then to appear before a sitting of the Brazilian congress on the basis of what they did with their tickets in 2012, because he was worried what would happen come 2016. So if the warning lights weren't there for the likes of Pat Hickey back then and this has happened again, it just reeks of arrogance."

Panja set out the likely legal timeframe that will now follow in the case of Hickey. 

"There's no timeframe for this, so he could be held for quite a while," he said.

Panja continued: "From this point forward, there's going to have to be an appearance at court. A judge will now rule in a preliminary sense in this case,." He also explained that "Brazil and the UK are among the only countries that have very strict ticket touting rules, so he couldn't have been in a worse place for this to happen".

Panja also talked about previous ticket controversies during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

"There was this company, THG Sports, where there was an official connected to that company who was arrested at the time and they were told to leave Brazil. And subsequent to that, there was the case of Ray Whelan, the Match Hospitality official, who were FIFA's official hospitality partners for the World Cup - again a very high-profile raid, the media had been tipped off. He was held in Brazil for several months," he said, adding that the case was eventually dropped.