Russia arrests ex-Anzhi director, reportedly over World Cup scam

Eldar Isayev was detained Wednesday until August 18 on a charge of large-scale embezzlement, punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

Reports link former executive director of North Caucasus football team Anzhi, Eldar Isayev, to a major scam offering World Cup tickets to Chinese fans.   -  AP

Russia on Thursday said it has arrested a former executive director of North Caucasus football team Anzhi on suspicion of embezzlement, while reports linked him to a major scam offering World Cup tickets to Chinese fans.

A spokeswoman for Moscow's Tverskoi district court, Anastasia Dzyurko, confirmed to AFP that Eldar Isayev was detained Wednesday until August 18 on a charge of large-scale embezzlement, punishable by up to 10 years in jail.

The court did not release details of the charges, but Russia's Kommersant business daily reported allegations that Isayev had promised Chinese fans tickets to the World Cup hosted by Russia and cheated them of more than $1 million, citing its own sources.

It reported that Isayev told Russian police he himself had been swindled by fraudsters who claimed to have official ticket quotas.

The Chinese Embassy in Moscow last week put out a statement saying that a company calling itself Anzhi Msk had contacted travel agencies in China saying it was offering official tickets and presented a letter from Russia's World Cup organising committee that turned out to be forged.

The embassy told travel agencies and fans to report the fraud to police.

Anzhi said in a statement on Thursday that Isayev had worked for the club as executive director for 10 months in 2017 but was sacked on October 18.

The state-owned Global Times reported more than 3,500 fake tickets were sold to Chinese fans, who have been refused entry to stadiums.

Thirty fans from Chongqing Municipality in southwestern China were barred from attending Saturday's Argentina-Iceland game, local daily Chongqing Morning Post reported.

A company named Anzhi Msk was registered in Moscow in 2017, with its president named as Zhanna Bryutova. Kommersant reported that Bryutova is Isayev's girlfriend and has been detained for questioning.

Anzhi, a club based in Makhachkala in Dagestan, was formerly owned by Russian Senator Suleiman Kerimov, who is under investigation in France for tax fraud and is on the US sanctions list.

Under his ownership, the club topped the Russian league and paid millions for players like Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto'o. They are currently 14th in Russia's premier league.

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